A FORTH VALLEY artist has sketched portraits from her bedside of the hospital staff who helped her recover from ovarian cancer.

Gillian McLaren was diagnosed with the disease at the height of the first Covid-19 wave last spring.

While the nation was in lockdown, she endured surgery, chemotherapy and dozens of tests.

Since drawing in the hospital wards, she’s continued a series, sharing drawings of the medical staff including doctors, cleaners, porters and dieticians at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee who got her through the toughest year of her life.

Gillian, now 34, said: “My drawings, titled Portraits and Tales from a Hospital Bed, portray some of the amazing people who looked after me.

“It’s my tribute to them and a way of thanking them all.

“The drawings capture a moment in time. There’s a drawing of the porter who brought me an extra blanket to keep me warm, the cleaner with a lavender spray who lifted my spirits and my consultant who always made me feel safe and knew the right thing to say.”

Gillian, who lives in Stirling, knows exactly how vital new breakthroughs and discoveries are to help more people survive cancer.

Now she wants to raise awareness of the signs of ovarian cancer, especially in younger women, and help other young people with the disease feel less isolated.

She recalls vividly the morning of Wednesday March 4 last year when after more scans doctors finally confirmed she had low grade ovarian cancer.

Gillian said: “There’s nothing that prepares you for the words, ‘you have cancer.’

“I was told in a very gentle and sensitive way but it was still a shock.

“I had always hoped that one day I’d have a family of my own. I was told I’d lose my fertility during treatment.

“Cancer was threatening my life but it was also taking away my choice to one day have children. That fertility loss felt like a death.”

It was while recovering at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee that Gillian started sketching the NHS staff.

Now, Gillian hopes her story will inspire people to enter a Race for Life event in Scotland this autumn to raise funds for life-saving research.

Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK’s spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “We are grateful to Gillian for her support.  

“All 400 mass participation Race for Life events across the UK were cancelled last year to protect the country’s health during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“So this year, more than ever, we need people to enter the Race for Life; for the people we love, for the people we’ve lost and for the one in two of us who will get cancer.”

Gillian’s artwork can be seen at gillyartist.com or via her Instagram account @gillyartist.

Visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770 to sign up for a Race for Life.