‘Joking helped us beat cancer’

Hayley Heron and Kerry Richardson, who met during chemotherapy sessions after both being diagnosed with leukaemia, with some of the jewellry they make and sell to raise cash for other sufferers.
Hayley Heron and Kerry Richardson, who met during chemotherapy sessions after both being diagnosed with leukaemia, with some of the jewellry they make and sell to raise cash for other sufferers.
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FROM desperation to inspiration, these two women have overcome illness and found a lasting friendship.

Hayley Heron and Kerry Richardson met in hospital as they both underwent chemotherapy treatment.

Striking up a friendship, the pair quickly realised they had one very important thing in common – laughter.

Hayley, 46, and Kerry, 27, would laugh away their troubles, cracking jokes and keeping each other spirits up as well as all the other patients undergoing treatment. Now, their experiences together have inspired the pair to help others by raising money for Ward B28 at Sunderland Royal Hospital, where they were treated.

Kerry, a Washington bus driver, was diagnosed with leukaemia last October when she was eight weeks pregnant.

She said: “I was told not to continue with the pregnancy, that if I did there was a strong chance neither myself or the baby would survive.”

Hayley was diagnosed with leukaemia last August and, already suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, was put into isolation at Sunderland Royal Hospital as medics feared her immune system would not be able to cope.

The mum-of-three, from South Hetton, said: “I knew I had it. For some reason, it had been at the back of my mind. When the doctors came to tell me, I asked “have I got leukaemia?”.

Both women were told they would need three cycles of chemotherapy which started last year.

Kerry said: “We were supposed to be in separate rooms but we became such good friends, the doctors didn’t want to split us up.

“I went into remission at the beginning of the year and I’ve just returned to work in the last five weeks but am on light duties at the minute.”

Hayley, who is also recovering, while managing her MS, has now set up a Facebook page with Kerry called “Tickle Your Fancy”. The new friends are making and selling jewellery online to help other patients on the ward.

Hayley added: “There are a lot of awful side-effects from chemotherapy and a lot of people have a very difficult time with it.

“Kerry and I would deal with things like losing out hair by joking and making light of the situation, that was how we got through it all.”

The pair are also writing a bedside companion booklet for fellow patients.

Visit Hayley and Kerry’s fundraising page