- Diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Kirsty's story

Kirsty’s blood cancer journey, like so many others, began with a seemingly unrelated health issue – she had a nasty throat infection called Quinsy, Kirsty explains: “I ended up in hospital but when I got home my neck kept  swelling so I kept pushing for an investigation.” 

Kirsty had an appointment with a consultant at Christchurch Hospital, who gave her the bad news – she had Double-Hit lymphoma which is a type of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Kirsty would need to start chemotherapy straight away. She was put in touch with Matt from LBC who gave Kirsty a call: “I was in the supermarket carpark when he phoned and it was the first really practical, knowledgeable help I got. I remember getting off the phone and feeling relieved because there was someone who was there to help me.”

Matt was able to walk Kirsty step by step through what lay ahead: “When you start chemo, you feel like you’re stepping into the unknown and for me knowledge is power, so the information Matt was able to provide helped a  lot. Chemo is really complicated, you have one appointment with your consultant for 30 minutes and there is so much you miss. My consultant was insanely busy so having Matt to explain and clarify made a big difference.”

Matt was also able to help provide support to Kirsty’s ten year old son Sam who was dealing with a lot of grief and anger. Matt helped Kirsty find a counsellor for Sam and also organised for them to go a Breakers basketball game as a treat: “There was no way we could have afforded to do something like that and it was so great for Sam and me to have a break from all the hard stuff and just have some fun.” 

Kirsty finished her chemo in February and initially all seemed to be going well: “I’d just started to feel better again, not so fatigued and my fingernails and hair were starting to grow back, but then I started to have fever and  night sweats and that was a catalyst for some more tests.” 

Kirsty had to face an incredibly difficult meeting with her consultant who confirmed she had relapsed: “I walked around in a daze for a day or so and then rang Matt  and had a good talk to him – he was incredibly supportive again. I wanted to get my head around things and get my game face on so I didn’t frighten my friends and family.”

Matt was able to talk through the new treatment  plan including stem cell transplant (SCT). He was also able to offer help with grocery vouchers when Kirsty really needed them: “Vouchers were so helpful – one of the worst parts of cancer is the overwhelming financial stress if a small thing goes wrong, like needing a new tyre, it is a huge problem. I had to call on him a few times and he was able to give me a grocery voucher – I could feed everyone that week.”

Kirsty attended a couple of LBC’s support group meetings which she found inspiring, she is also working on strengthening her resilience: “When I was first diagnosed I tapped into Lucy Hone’s information on resilience. I’m looking on the bright side, enjoying  the moments and being grateful for what I have – it’s how you face challenges that counts.”