PDH’s oncology service – Jill Lovell

Jill Lovell enjoyed working at Portland District Health for 48 years but was looking forward to a break from the hospital when she retired in 2018.

Sadly, she has spent a lot of time back at PDH after being diagnosed with ovarian and unrelated breast cancer but she appreciates the care she’s receiving.

Mrs Lovell recently received the 3000th treatment from PDH’s oncology service and says the service is a life-saver for local people.

“It’s terrific that it has reached this milestone, though if you think about the reasons behind it, it’s probably not,” she said.

After leaving school, Mrs Lovell started as a junior receptionist switchboard operator at PDH and for the last 35 years she worked in radiology, ending up as office manager for the department.

The 69-year-old was diagnosed with cancer in late 2018. “I worked in the radiology department and did all the mammograms and checks, but unfortunately, ovarian cancer is very insidious because the symptoms are what women experience all the time. You don’t know and it sneaks up on you.”

After being diagnosed while on holiday after retiring, she has been facing the challenge head-on.

“This is what I’ve spent my retirement doing but I still have a positive outlook. In those four years, we’ve had two grandchildren and that has been wonderful and we’re still here and very appreciative of the whole service.”

Mrs Lovell’s initial chemotherapy was at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and she has started her fourth round of chemotherapy in Portland, along with radiotherapy in Warrnambool.

“To know that it’s almost on your doorstep and you can return home after treatment is a great comfort,” she said. “It’s 20 minutes down the road from Heywood as opposed to an extra two hours to go to Warrnambool.

“I was very thankful for having all my radiotherapy in Warrnambool and there’s nothing wrong with Warrnambool, but it’s fabulous to have something local.

“The chemotherapy unit at Portland is absolutely brilliant for the people in this district and we’re so lucky to have Associate Professor Ian Collins here one day a week. All the staff are wonderful but he is the glue.”

This year Mrs Lovell has spent more than two months in Queensland with her grandchildren and they will be visiting Heywood this Christmas.

Pictured: Oncologist Assoc Professor Ian Collins, oncology and dialysis Nurse Practitioner Nathalie Abel, George Sison, Sharna Mullan and Nurse Unit Manager Natalie Herbertson and, front, patient Jill Lovell