On International Women’s Day, we are proud to introduce new deputy director of gynae-oncology, Dr. Rhonda Farrell.
Dr. Farrell has been practising medicine for over twenty years and is currently completing her PhD in peritonectomy and heated chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.” I have always wanted to concentrate on cancer and making a difference to women by treating them in a very holistic way, which Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is well-known for doing,” she says.
Dr. Farrell has been focused on women’s health for most of her career and explains, “I really like looking after women because women are what keep families going and keeping them well makes a big difference”.
Her current research is on a specific type of chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer known as HIPEC (Heated Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy). This treatment involves delivering a heated chemotherapy solution directly into the patient’s abdomen to kill any microscopic cancer cells that surgeons can’t see.
“The treatment aims to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, improve the overall survival rate and delay the cancer coming back for many women.”
This type of treatment for ovarian cancer is extremely rare within Australia, with less than fifty women taking part in different research studies. The evidence so far has not indicated whether it is the heat itself that is killing the cancer cells or the cells’ direct contact with the drug. This is what Dr. Farrell is hoping to find out.
As deputy director, Dr. Farrell plans to, “Foster collaboration in research in different areas, not just gynaecologic cancer.” She believes in collaborating across the entire hospital to ensure that all patients at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse receive the most up-to-date holistic care. Her position as deputy director is especially inspiring because the role is entirely funded through philanthropy.
Dr. Farrell is not only pioneering new treatment for ovarian cancer, but she is also inspiring many young women to become involved in medicine. She recently collaborated with St. George’s Hospital to provide STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workshops for female high school students in South Sydney.
Aside from developing new cancer treatments and inspiring young women, Dr. Farrell also enjoys having a glass of rosé and listening to Triple J. She is not only a highly specialised gynae-oncologist but a mother as well. Her children help to keep her grounded and ensure that, “She is kept abreast with what young people are listening to.”
We look forward to keeping up with Dr. Farrell’s work at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and wish her a happy International Women’s Day.