Tips, Experiences and Inspiration for Those who are Caring for the Seriously Ill. 

It’s not easy being a supporter of someone living with serious illness, and it’s not always about being positive and strong either. For Kieran Hewitt, whose wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, it’s important to show your vulnerabilities too.

“I’ve always been a positive person, and when I started saying it will be alright, she would say, maybe it won’t?

Kieran believes always being positive didn’t help his wife when she needed his support.

“It was the days when I broke down and cried, that she would feel stronger because she could then offer me support. Sometimes you need to show you’re worried. You have to be realistic,” Kieran said.

In 2016, Joanne Hewitt was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, which began a nine-month treatment program of chemotherapy, lumpectomy and radiotherapy. This year, they received the terrible news that the cancer had spread to both breasts, as well as her neck. She recently underwent a double mastectomy, and is now going through chemotherapy again.

“Joanne’s had 105 appointments since 2016, ranging from blood tests to operations. I’ve been to 98 of them. I missed six blood tests and one radiation therapy session,” Kieran said.

To Kieran, it’s important that he has a good supportive network around him. He feels he’s in a privileged position as he has an understanding boss and a lot of support from his co-workers, some of which have been touched by cancer themselves.

Kieran and Joanne also have a supportive family network, as well as close friends who are there for them when the news is good or bad.

“I see a lot of people going through chemotherapy on their own. Having support is really important. You need someone to listen at the doctor’s appointments and understand what is happening. For a start, there are so many tablets.”

Kieran has researched every single tablet prescribed to Joanne, as well as all the side effects associated with them.

“If her hands are sore, I know what tablet has caused that,” he said.

Together for 20 years, Kieran says the whole experience has bought them much closer. Although recently there has been a lot of pressure due to Joanne having a double mastectomy and the impact this had on her self esteem.

“It’s a major operation, and Joanne could not have a reconstruction straight away. At one point, she told me to find someone else as she didn’t want me to see her scars,” he said.

“I didn’t marry her for her boobs, and I’m not going to leave her because of them either.” 

Kieran and Joanne have a regular monthly outing together, where they go away for a night to bring back some normalcy back into their lives.

“It doesn’t have to be expensive. There’s been times when we’ve only travelled 8 miles away, and stayed in a hotel for £30,” he said.

“The important thing is to make time for each other. You still have to enjoy life as much as possible,” he said.