Jean’s cancer journey highlights the importance of local care


Jean Kirkwood’s cancer journey began and continues at Wonthaggi Hospital, highlighting the importance of cancer care being available on the Bass Coast. 

She was taken to the hospital by ambulance with pain in her side and was transferred to Casey Hospital at Berwick for further assessment. There, she received a diagnosis of liver cancer. 

Now Jean is back at Bass Coast Health’s (BCH) Wonthaggi Hospital, having received chemotherapy at the L. Rigby Centre - a dedicated cancer and infusion facility - since November last year. 

“I’ve been so lucky to be able to have the treatment here and not have to travel, especially as I’m having treatment for two weeks in a row,” she said. 

“I feel tired but can still do the basic things around home, but not having to travel eases the pressure. It’s a great facility here. The staff are like my friends. They’re all wonderful people. They give me a sense of security. 

“I’m also able to have my blood tests done at Wonthaggi Hospital, so everything that I need to have done I can have done locally.” 

Jean’s cancer diagnosis came as a shock but she has resolved to accepting her circumstances and her treatment regime. 

“You just have to go with the flow. What I have got I have got,” she said. 

BCH offers a comprehensive cancer care service from Wonthaggi Hospital, saving patients the cost of time, energy and money of travelling. Patients can consult oncologists from Alfred Health at Wonthaggi, undergo surgery, and receive chemotherapy and other infusions at the L. Rigby Centre. The centre has 9 treatment chairs and treats an average of 300 patients a month – and that number is continuously growing. 

Nurse Unit Manager Anna Kenny said, “Receiving news of a cancer diagnosis is a stressful time and so is the process of going through the many appointments, tests and treatment. The cancer team at Bass Coast Health understands that.

“Our staff help to reduce the burden faced by cancer patients and their family and friends - not only by offering many treatments here, but also by being empathetic towards patients and having first-class knowledge of treatment processes. This ensures patients receive treatment with minimal fuss so they can return to their normal lives as soon as possible.” 

Registered Nurse Linda Tack said of her approach to care, “I strive to offer my patients and the residents of Bass Coast the best possible care and understanding of disease progression, as well as the possible treatments, services and supports systems available at BCH.” 

BCH will expand its cancer services when the new Phillip Island Community Hospital opens in late 2024, providing a convenient day chemotherapy service to Island residents and visitors.