Smiling Through Everything - The Kennard Family

“I think the hardest time is just seeing them hurting and you can’t fix it”

Evie was only 9 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The most dreadful shock for any family, but for mum Hazel this wasn’t the first time. Evie’s older sister Lily was nearly 9 when she developed a lump on the back of her head.

We visited the family at their home to cast Hazel and her three girls together and to hear their remarkable story.

The doctors thought the lump was a cyst and operated to remove it. 

“Halfway through the operation, they called me in to say it wasn’t a cyst, it was in fact a tumour”

The cancer had started to spread so Lily needed a second operation but after the surgery the cancer returned. Hazel and the family were faced with a heart wrenching choice. Wait until the NHS could raise funds to send Lily to the US for specialist treatment or start radiotherapy in the UK straight away.

They chose the radiotherapy.

Hazel lived at the hospital with Lily for six weeks. Family and friends rallied, looking after sisters Evie and Phoebe. And then came the results. The radiotherapy had worked.

Life returned to normal for Hazel and the family.

Until October 2017 when younger sister Evie started to feel very unwell. The doctors diagnosed appendicitis.

Hazel received a call halfway through the surgery. They had found a tumour on Evie’s ovary and she was bleeding internally.

Hazel and the family were knocked for six. But Evie was strong, just like her older sister.

“They smile through everything. Both girls, straight after surgery, they sat up eating a bag of crisps like nothing had happened!”

7 months on and Evie has finished her treatment and the cancer is in remission.

But the story doesn’t end there.

On last December’s MRI, doctors found another tumour in Lily’s pituitary gland. The family are waiting to get more test results and to find out what the treatment will be.

Hazel’s girls sum up how amazing their mum has been:

Phoebe: “I just think my mum’s very strong – she’s been through so much and she’s still happy and smiling”

Lily: “She’s always there for us. Helping us to get through stuff”

Evie: “I think our family has coped quite good. And it’s made us a bit stronger as well”

But Hazel has the last word on their family casting: 

“It’s us four together. We’ve been through the worst times and it’s a positive thing to have. All hands together, we’re just a solid group."