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Karen and Jaryd's story


The devastating news of a cancer diagnosis can turn a family’s life upside down. Suddenly, parents find themselves having to manage not only everyday financial, family and work commitments but also caring for their sick child and handling the extra expenses that cancer brings, while looking after themselves and their family. Mother of two, Karen, wants to share her story so families know about the essential support Redkite provides.

The cancer journey for Karen’s 19 year-old son, Jaryd, started after three months of waiting for a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “There was a lot of waiting and, ‘What if? What if?’ and then yes, it was cancer. We were all in shock and floundering,” remembers Karen.

"It’s like being through a storm, when the storm is over the dust has settled but there is a huge mess, emotionally, still to clean up.”

Jaryd’s treatment included chemotherapy and daily radiotherapy. “I just wanted to keep him safe and protect him. Jaryd didn’t want to be ‘Jaryd with cancer’, he just wanted to be Jaryd,” says Karen.

Karen found herself playing a key support role to Jaryd, her youngest son Thomas and her husband. “They needed different things from me on the journey. It was hard for me. It was sort of like juggling everyone’s different emotions. I spent a lot of time crying behind closed doors,” reflects Karen.

While in hospital, a social worker let Jaryd know that Redkite could pay some of his bills, which Karen said made a huge difference. “Jaryd had just started working and earning money and had started on his independent journey. The financial help from Redkite helped give Jaryd back a little bit of control and independence that was taken from him when he was diagnosed and had to undergo all the treatment,” explains Karen.

The return home after treatment was difficult for Karen, which many families tell Redkite is a time that is extremely isolating and challenging. “I think it is even more important to have support after treatment has finished because that is when you are sort of left alone. Everything sort of stops and you feel lost. It’s like being through a storm, when the storm is over the dust has settled but there is a huge mess, emotionally, still to clean up,” says Karen.

Karen found support via Redkite’s telephone support line. “I was still having trouble coming to terms with what Jaryd had been through and talking to the social worker really helped. Redkite is there to listen and support without judgement and they really ‘get it’,” says Karen.

"I spent a lot of time crying behind closed doors.”

Karen also benefitted from one of Redkite’s professionally-facilitated telephone parent support groups. “I was really unsure about the telegroup to start with but I’m so glad I did it, it was really, really helpful. We all had similar feelings at times and I realised I wasn’t alone and that what I was feeling was normal. I still stay in contact with two of the other mums,” says Karen.

Since Jaryd’s treatment has finished, Karen has recently celebrated the birth of her first grandchild: Jaryd’s baby daughter Imogen.

Karen wants supporters to know how essential Redkite’s support has been: “Thank you. It just made a huge difference in dealing with what Jaryd and our family went through.”


– October 2012


Would you like to share your story? Have a look at Kite ConnectorsRedkite celebrates the diversity of personal experiences and stories. The stories shared on our website include opinions that may not necessarily represent Redkite's views.