Jill Bertolini Fund

No One Fights Alone

It takes a special kind of person to put your own challenges aside to help others – even in the midst of so much uncertainty. Jill Bertolini defined what it means to be that special person. Her story has become a source of inspiration – filled with countless emotions. 

Cancer is at the center of Jill’s health story. In October 2019, days after returning home from a honeymoon in Africa with her husband, Jill was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy on October 30, which was eventually followed by reconstructive surgery.

In September 2020, less than a year later, Jill noticed that she wasn’t feeling well. She attributed much of it to her being rundown due to a big move she and her husband had just made after buying their dream home. Two weeks later, the 42-year-old ended up in the emergency room. A CAT scan revealed something abnormal and she was admitted to the hospital. She would later learn that she had stage four pancreatic cancer, which was inoperable and completely unrelated to the breast cancer. The devastating news was made worse when she also learned that the pancreatic cancer metastasized to her liver and lungs.

Doctors told Jill that patients with her prognosis who undergo treatment live an average of a year. Jill opted to go through treatment, but also wanted to still follow through with the goals she set for herself prior to her second cancer diagnosis. One of those goals – helping other women.  

Colleague Support for Jillene Bertolini

After her breast cancer diagnosis in 2019, Jill decided that every October she would make a basket full of items that would bring a woman comfort and healing as they recovered from a  mastectomy. Her breast surgeon would then give the basket to a patient. As October 2020 approached, Jill was committed to carrying out this goal – despite just being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She knew her time was limited, but never wavered from her commitment to helping other women.

Jill was not only a Hartford HealthCare patient, but also a former employee – once serving as the director of Medical Staff Services at The Hospital of Central Connecticut and MidState Medical Center. Her former colleagues heard about her determination and commitment to helping other women – and wanted to take part as well.

In June 2021, Jill’s colleagues launched the Inaugural Jill Bertolini Symposium, an important fundraiser, which raised more than $50,000. The event now ensures that every woman who goes through a mastectomy will receive a Jill Basket. Jill was overwhelmed with gratitude – realizing her once-a-year gesture would now be done on a regular basis. She wanted these baskets to be part of her legacy, which brought her a tremendous sense of pride. The symposium also provides discussion and information about cancer screenings, diagnoses, treatments, resources and advancements in technology.

Jill Bertolini Symposium
Jill Bertolini Symposium. Pictured (L-R) – Kim Kerr, RN, CBCN, CN-BN; Holley Dey, MD; Brian Byrne, MD; Niamey Wilson, MD, FACS; Bret Schipper, MD; Camelia Lawrence, MD, FACS; Jill Bertolini and Brian Spyro

Jill's story shines a spotlight on a disease that impacts countless people, including our families, friends and colleagues. The message to everyone is the same as the event's motto: No one fights alone. 

Sadly, Jill passed away on December 7, 2021 after a courageous 15-month battle with cancer. Jill’s legacy will have a profound impact on other women and their families – also faced with a cancer diagnosis. The Hospital of Central Connecticut and MidState Medical Center are proud to be the driving force behind that legacy – to ensure that her memory, strength, and devotion will live on for years to come.

Thank you to all who donated!

DONATIONS can be made to support the JILL BERTOLINI FUND on this site.

Thank You to Our Donors     Thank You to Our Sponsors

Development Office

Philanthropy Department Contacts

Leslie Cifone

Regional Director of Philanthropy & Volunteer Services

Tina M. Fabiani

Manager of Philanthropy

Cheryl J. Belomizi

Development Officer, Annual Giving

Nancy Honore

Database Coordinator