Reverend Dr Sidney Bindemann 1933-2020

17 September 2020

The Reverend Dr Sidney Bindemann, who has died aged 87, is rightly regarded as a founding figure within psycho-oncology.  

When in the 1970s he was appointed Principal Clinical Psychologist to the Department of Clinical Oncology within the University of Glasgow, it was the first full-time appointment of its kind in the UK. At the time, Cancer Research UK described his research activities of those days as “innovative and pioneering”. He was a founding member of several European and UK based societies focused on psycho-oncology. He was Hon. Senior Lecturer in Glasgow University’s Oncology Department and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at The Beatson Oncology Centre. 

He was also Director and founder of the Scottish cancer charity, The Phoenix Cancer Foundation.

Paying a tribute, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, Chancellor or the University of Glasgow said "The Department of Oncology was established at the University of Glasgow in 1974. It was an exciting time in caring for cancer patients as new procedures and treatments were just being developed. But central to the work of the Department was to recognise that patients, and their families, had significant experience of cancer and that we could learn from them how things could be improved. 

“Sid Bindemann was an essential part of this process by finding out just how useful this knowledge could be and using this to improve patient care and quality of life. His own background in Psychology was particularly helpful and he had an important role in this process. This was pioneering work in which Sid had an important role, and improved the lives of patients with cancer, not just in Glasgow but beyond.”

His innovative and pioneering coping techniques and strategies were often transformational and helped many to cope during the most challenging of circumstances. Even in 2020, when in frail health but still determined to positively contribute to the wellbeing of cancer patients and their relatives, he published Living & Coping with Cancer…..Help & Support Through Letters from a Friend. Professor of Cancer Medicine at Oxford University, Professor David Kerr commented “This book will contribute to improving the quality of life and mental health of cancer patients around the globe”.

Sid was the youngest of six children. Leaving school with no qualifications, he joined the Salvation Army. Feeling somewhat unfulfilled, he attended the Congregational Church College and associated faculty at Edinburgh University. He was ordained into the Christian ministry in Paisley in 1959.  

Most importantly, the Reverend Dr Sidney Bindemann, was husband to Christine and Dad to Karl, Neil and Martin. His family were his refuge from the stresses of his professional life. He was happiest and at his most relaxed with his family.  

Through his own experiences, Sid demonstrated that life’s setbacks are just that; and not failures that define you. ‘To let life unfold’ ‘ guided by events’, ‘live for today and let tomorrow take care of itself’ are sayings that he inherited from his own father and that have left an indelible mark on his three sons.