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Kere is just 34 yrs old and is suffering with an incredibly rare type of Blood cancer – Angio Immunoblastic T cell Lymphoma. The ways in which this has affected her and those around her are profound and devastating. After suffering a mid term miscarriage, Kere went horrifically downhill. She was admitted to Manly Hospital in incredible pain, and sent home four days later where her husband Adrian tried to care for her. Kere went downhill very fast, an in spite of the hospital repeatedly telling Adrian it was “just a virus” he finally took her to Royal North Shore – this was Easter weekend 2011. After extensive and painful tests, Kere was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and began immediate treatment. Going down quickly, the family had nothing to lose. It was only much later they discovered how very close she came to not getting beyond Easter weekend.
Kere was successful in getting through her Chemotherapy, and was a great candidate for an Autogulous Stem cell transplant (where her own 'healthy' cells are re-infused into the Bone Marrow, thus replacing the Immune System).. This is a harrowing procedure and had some grim effects on the body. Whilst she waited for her stem cells to "make families" in her bone marrow, she had no immune system at all. Being such a rare and aggressive cancer – there’s so much that just isn’t known. Kere is fighting with her beautiful little family with everything they have, odds against her all the way. The transplant itself went well, and somehow Kere got through it, fighting spirit intact. We were all devastated when inside 100 days the Cancer returned and very quickly began the path of tearing her apart again. It was Christmas Eve when her Specialist phone d confirming the relapse. By this point she was in so much pain she could barely move.
Kere is the Mother of an incredible 10 year old daughter, Lanya. Lanya has the most positive, kind and thoughtful nature. She is her mother's miracle, and has been through things that are heartbreaking and wrong, but this beautiful girl starts every day with a smile. Her husband Adrian is her rock – but the strain of this is getting to them in un-imaginable ways. Other than the obvious fear and treatment, the family is under massive financial strain, Kere spent the last 2 years building her business Red Olive Studios, and last year set up and combined it with her beloved ‘underground ARTspace’ a place where Artists (local and other) could have affordable studio space, exhibit their works and be a part of an Artists community. This was an incredible risk, but she did it anyway believing in the concept so much. Being a sole trader however, and now in a position unable to work – there is a lot of debt, and the driving force of all of this is going through the fight of, and for her life.
On top of the huge debts, there are costs that cancer brings which is often not thought of. On top of the obvious things like medication, there is childcare, cleaning, transport, nurses where and when possible. This family has one income, and Adrian has far exceeded any leave available to him, so is often not around for some of the hard stuff with her. Kere has always been a supporter of and involved in alternative healing/treatment methods. But like anything, these things come at a price. We can’t face the idea of Kere missing out on any form of treatment/medication because of money.
The family are now preparing for Kere to undergo another type of transplant whereby the cells of an unrelated 'Donor' are infused to basically rebuild the Immune system in its entirety. It's been a harrowing 6 months trying to find a Donor, and there is a WONDERFUL young Man in Germany who was a good match for her. The transplant comes not only with a 4-6 week hospital stay, there is a 3-4 month recovery after that. And wonderful and incredible as this is, Kere knows she's again facing the hardest challenge of her life. She knows because she's been there. She knows what is ahead.
The family are trying to find a way to get through this, and also get her Mum here from New Zealand for post transplant care. There will be a lot of before and after school care required during the rest of the year, a cleaner, along with Adrian being able to take the occasional day off to support Kere during the hardest days. Lanya too, while watching her Mum suffer through this, has had to give up all after school activities due to financial constraints on the family.
Being originally from New Zealand, a lot of the support network Kere has is there, interstate and scattered all around the world. The numbers of friends, and messages she receives daily from her “crew” are a testament to the kind of people they are, and speak highly of the woman she is. This week one of Kere’s friends said the following, which we think sums her up!
"One of the things that has struck me recently has been your unfailing capacity to see goodness throughout an incredibly challenging situation - you thank people daily, praise hospital staff, express your love for Lanya and Adrian, and show support and concern for your friends through their problems. Its almost as if that determination to perceive light and beauty in the face of adversity were an instinct. I am a big fan of yours (as you know) but believe that you are owed a break because of this quality alone - I am praying that it is recognised somewhere in the universe, and rewarded." (KG)
We can’t take this from her, or any of them but there are so many people who want to help – in any way. I know Kere despises the feeling of needing so much help. She has spent the last few months getting Red Olive online - so think of shopping when you need a gift, or telling your friends about it. It's win win - the website has some beautiful product, and you're really truly shopping with a small family who could use your help.
There is a direct paypal link on this page for those wishing to offer some financial support to the family. We have also set up a 'Support Kere' category on the Red Olive website for those wishing to donate and shop at the same time. We are also in the process of arranging an online roster for anyone wishing to bring the family a meal - particularly in the tough few months ahead. Any help, small, large or practical is appreciated beyond measure.
Kere is doing the fight for her life, let’s get together and try to help them with the quality of it.