“Jen's dream was to be a social worker and to that end she was in university studying for a degree in health and social care, she was also working as a care assistant. But in November 2010, shortly after her 22nd birthday she was diagnosed with small cell cancer. Very rare, it was also very aggressive. She loved her job but decided she might not be able to give it her full commitment once diagnosed, so she went on sick leave until she knew what was going to happen.
I had heard of a unit in Cardiff that young people could go to for support when they were coping with cancer, but wasn’t sure where it was or what it was called. I decided to do a bit of research and that’s how I came across CLIC Sargent. I gave them a ring and within a couple of days a lady called Mary-Ann had got in touch. When I told her Jen’s story she arranged a meeting in the house and she and Jen instantly hit it off.
Jen was always independent and more so when she was diagnosed. She always used to say, ‘I'll just have to get on and deal with it’. CLIC Sargent helped her financially through the first few weeks of treatment, even though we would have supported her, she had independence and not relying on the bank of mum and dad to get by.
She also told her about the Willow Foundation, which allows young people to go on enjoyable excursions and offers extra support if needed. Jen loved music festivals and thought it was great that thanks to the foundation she was allowed in the VIP tent and could skip the queues to get in.
Mary-Ann continued to visit and ring Jen, she would talk about anything and everything and not necessarily focus on Jen’s cancer. I would often come home and find the two of them laughing and drinking coffee, chatting like old friends. When Jen’s condition started to deteriorate Mary-Ann was there again, visiting her in hospital and at home and texting, assuring us she was there if we needed her.
She was in contact with us after Jen died, offering support and telling us what was available for families whose children have died through cancer. Some time after Jen passed away I thought I was dealing pretty well and was trying to be strong for my immediate family, Mary-Ann was still there to offer support.
We now have a memorial bench for Jen in Norton, overlooking the bay where all her friends and family and the public can go and sit, reflect, look out at the wonderful view. Jen always said that CLIC Sargent was one of the charities that she wanted us to fundraise for. Since then, Team Jenny's Especially For You Fund has raised over £49,000 so far.”
How you can help
Kez and Jenny Richard’s story is just one of the many that have featured in the current South Wales Evening Post Appeal.
To make a donation, please visit The South Wales Evening Post Appeal or text CLSA80 followed by your donation amount to 70070.
If you would like to help fundraise for CLIC Sargent, please contact Kiren Fernandes on 0117 311 2620 or email email@example.com.