Kangaroo Island family battle widens as mum diagnosed with tumour

KI FAMILY: Hannah, Richard, Nicole and Sue Symens have been overwhelmed by the support from the Kangaroo Island community. Photo supplied
KI FAMILY: Hannah, Richard, Nicole and Sue Symens have been overwhelmed by the support from the Kangaroo Island community. Photo supplied

The Kangaroo Island community is rallying behind the Symens family, who are dealing with yet another health crisis, a setback they are determined to overcome.

Richard has been bravely battling Acute Myeloid Leukemia for the last two years and now his wife Sue is facing surgery next month after doctors recently discovered she has a large ovarian tumour.

Almost $19,000 has been already been raised in the past week on the GoFundMe page "Richard and Sue - fight for their girls".

Upon Richard's diagnosis in April 2019, the couple packed up and moved to Adelaide so he could continue with treatment and she worked as a bookkeeper from his bedside to keep the money coming in.

Meanwhile, while their parents have been living in the Leukemia Foundation's Bridgestone Australia Village in Adelaide, daughters Hannah and Nicole stayed on the Island.

20-year-old Hannah has been working on the Island and Nicole managed to complete Year 12 with good grades.

Close friends Renè Steyn and Sankara Sullivan have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for this family and hope to raise at least $25,000 to secure a future for the girls.

Renè says about the girls: "These two girls did an amazing job managing a household, working and doing Year 12 with a mother away and a father critically ill, and the odd visits to Adelaide."

The fundraiser night held for Richard Symens at the Kingscote Golf Club in September 2019.

The fundraiser night held for Richard Symens at the Kingscote Golf Club in September 2019.

The KI community has been along with the Symens in their battle over the past two years, including a fundraiser at the Kingscote golf club that raised more than $9000.

The GoFund Me page reads as follows:

When bad things happen to one parent it's hard on a family, but when it hits the other parent as well, one is lost for words.

Sue and Richard "live" in Kingscote, Kangaroo Island. Richard has been an electrician for over 40 years. He was the guy that would always help you out, even after hours when needed.

In August 2018 whilst working on an industrial dishwasher Richard received a nasty electric shock.

Miraculously he survived but severed his right thumb tendons as well as sustaining some burns. This put him off work and income for three months.

On April 3, 2019, after working with an increasing amount of undiagnosed chest pain, Richard was sent up to hospital in Adelaide for investigation.

It was here Richard was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia or AML. Due to the nature of this cancer he needed Sue by his side all the time.

They packed up in 4 days to make the move to Adelaide to fight this beast. Sue continued to work as a bookkeeper and transcriber from Richard's hospital bedside to keep some money coming in.

Many a time it's been touch and go for Richard, with severe infections, bleeds, Code Blue's and the list goes on.

He has had well over 200 red blood cell and platelet transfusions, without which he would not be here. Due to the remoteness of Kangaroo Island, Sue and Richard have been in the Leukemia Village in Adelaide.

They had to leave their two daughters Hannah and Nicole on the Island. Hannah is 20 years old and was working on the island and Nicole managed to complete Year 12 in 2020 with good grades.

These two girls did an amazing job managing a household, working and doing year 12 with a mother away and a father critically ill, and the odd visits to Adelaide.

Recently, Sue was faced with some medical issues of her own. Examinations revealed a large ovarian tumour, yet to be confirmed malignant, with surgery on Feb. 2, along with other symptoms including fluid on the lungs potentially coming from metastases.

She is undergoing further testing as we write this. Richard has undergone a second stem cell transplant in December 2020 as the first (Feb 2020) failed, and is currently discharged into Sue's 24/7 care.

Sue is still continuing to do her bookwork for clients and transcribing to keep up with the bills. This is where we would love YOUR help.

Sue really needs to stop working, stop worrying about the finances and be able to spend time with Richard, Hannah and Nicole.

Alone one cannot help them, but TOGETHER a lot of people all helping a little bit, can make a huge difference in the lives of Richard, Sue, Hannah and Nicole to ease the financial burden so that they can make the most of the time they have and have some security to leave to Hannah and Nicole should our worst fears be confirmed.

We open this Go Fund Me Page in the hope that from the goodwill of others the financial stress of having to try to keep working under these circumstances, can be taken off Sue's back and that they can spend quality family time together.

The Fundraiser has been set up by close family friends of Richard and Sue, Renè Steyn and Sankara Sullivan. The Funds will be sent to a bank account that has been set up in the name of Richard and Sue Symens, and overseen jointly by Renè and Sankara.

We know that Sue and Richard would absolutely be overcome with gratitude during a time when there is so much going on in the world.

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