Wollongong chiropractor John Cushan to retire at 84 after a 66-year career in health

No regrets: The steelworks were booming and the city was alive in every respect when John Cushan decided to make a three-month stay permanent in 1962. He spent the next 12 years working as a pharmacist and then 46 as a chiropractor. Pictures: Robert Peet.
No regrets: The steelworks were booming and the city was alive in every respect when John Cushan decided to make a three-month stay permanent in 1962. He spent the next 12 years working as a pharmacist and then 46 as a chiropractor. Pictures: Robert Peet.

When John Cushan came to the Illawarra as a locum at Warilla Pharmacy in 1962 he was only planning to stay three months.

But 58 years later he still lives in Wollongong where he has worked as a chiropractor for the last 46 years.

His plan has been to retire in December when he turns 84 but the COVID-19 lockdown almost brought that forward.

"I want to stop while I am still competent and proficient. What I didn't want to do was just fade out," he said.

Dr Cushan grew up in the country and plans to explore more of rural Australia in 2021. But for the remainder of 2020 he wants to keep doing what he loves which he says has been such a good job for him it has never felt like work.

"It has been a real lifestyle rather than a job."

Dr Cushan started his career as a pharmacist in Parramatta as an apprentice 66 years ago in 1954.

When he arrived in Shellharbour eight years later it was to locum at Warilla Pharmacy opposite the old council chambers.

"I was aiming to go to Rockhampton and went into a drug company in Sydney which at that time used to deal with the locum placements and the fellow there asked if I would do him a favour because there was a job going in Warilla.

"I told him I wanted to go to Rockhampton and he said "why don't you give Warilla a try for three months". After I had been there 12 weeks the boss I had been working for wanted me to stay."

Dr Cushan took a piece of paper and wrote down all the pros and cons of settling in Wollongong or Shellharbour.

He decided to stay because it was only a stone's throw from Sydney and was close to beaches, the countryside and good schools.

"At that time the steelworks were booming and Wollongong was really alive in every respect and I thought where better could I go. So I stayed and have loved living here ever since."

During his first eight years at the pharmacy customers kept coming in and telling him how a chiropractor had fixed them when nothing else worked.

Initially sceptical he wanted to know more and on one chiropractor's advice went up to a college in Sydney to speak to the principal who invited him to sit in on some of the classes.

"I did a couple of lessons and I was sold because it was straight physiology and anatomy. There was nothing funny about it at all. So I stuck with it and five years later out I came as a chiropractor."

Loyal patients and staff: Kaye Hawes liked the practice so much she decided to start working there 33 years ago. Her aunty also worked for Dr Cushan. Picture: Robert Peet.

Loyal patients and staff: Kaye Hawes liked the practice so much she decided to start working there 33 years ago. Her aunty also worked for Dr Cushan. Picture: Robert Peet.

Dr Cushan did locum pharmacy work while he studied and started working as a chiropractor at Fairy Meadow in 1974. He moved the practice to the present site in Mangerton two years later. Since then generations of some families have come to see him as patients.

Kaye Hawes was one of his early patients at Mangerton in 1976 and liked the practice so much later came to work there. This will be her 33rd year on the job.

Dr Cushan said it has been a real privilege to run the practice and serve the community for so long. And said he can't thank his patients enough for their long support.

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This story Wollongong chiropractor calls time on a cracking career first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.