After being 8,600 miles apart for years, they are together – but finding strength in each other to battle an aggressive cancer diagnosis.
*Note: We were humbled to have had the honor to meet Kert and his family and share their story, which received a lot of positive feedback and from the community. Regrettably, Kert lost his battle with cancer on August 25, 2017. The staff at the Cancer Center at Harrington would like to express their sympathies and send our best wishes to Kert’s family and friends.
It’s easy to see how much love is between Kert and Jocelyn Gallant.
It’s also fair to say their relationship has withstood more challenges than most – distance, financial hardships and health.
After spending a good portion of their five-year marriage 8,600 miles apart, they are now together – but using the opportunity to find strength in each other as Kert battles an aggressive cancer diagnosis.
Neither are taking the gift of time for granted. And both recognize the opportunity would have been lost had it not been for members of The Cancer Center at Harrington.
Kert grew up in Holland and spent many years as a bricklayer for the state of Massachusetts. He met Jocelyn online several years ago and, after talking to her for about a year, flew to her hometown – Dimiao, a village in Central Visayas, Philippines.
“She was so honest, I liked everything about her,” Kert said. “She ran right up to me in the airport.”
He stayed about a month before returning to the States, but the pair didn’t stop talking almost every day. Kert returned to the Philippines in 2012, where he and Jocelyn married.
Although Kert wanted to move across the country to be with his new wife, it was hard financially to make the transition. So Kert spent the next four years visiting Jocelyn from November to April. In that time they had a daughter, Lexi.
Two years ago, Kert began planning his annual trip, but his health took a turn for the worse.
Kert was diagnosed with lung cancer, and became too ill to travel.
“It was really hard,” Jocelyn said. “But we talked every day – every hour almost – and I kept my faith in God and stayed strong.”
Then one day, Kert received news that his cancer had spread, and was diagnosed with brain metastases.
As the Cancer Center staff heard how deeply Kert missed his family, and recognized how important it was for them to be by his side, they began to take action.
Cancer Center Medical Director Dr. Christopher Seidler, along with 21st Century Oncologist Dr. TJ Fitzgerald and social worker Deb Carter submitted letters to the US Embassy in the Philippines, encouraging the country to allow Kert’s wife and daughter to come to Massachusetts and be with him during treatment.
A GoFundMe page was set up by a friend of the family to also assist in the financial hardships to get Jocelyn and Lexi to the United States. Jocelyn says a plane ticket alone between the two countries costs about $2,500.
Finally, everyone’s efforts paid off. Jocelyn and Lexi were given permission to come to the United States and arrived on June 21. Jocelyn remembers the plane ride well.
“I was so nervous, so excited. I remember my flight was really delayed and I had no way to communicate with Kert. Finally, a nice man at the airport let me borrow his phone!” she said.
Jocelyn said she and Lexi, now 4, will be in the United States for about six months. For now, Kert is grateful to have them by his side. His appreciation is tearful.
“I haven’t seen them for two years. Two years of their lives I’ve missed. It was so stressful,” he said.
Jocelyn and Kert extend their thanks to the staff at the Center Center for helping advocate on his behalf, but saying the words aloud is still difficult.
Jocelyn’s voice becomes consumed with emotion when she tries. “I am very thankful. Because I know …. I know how much this means.”Kert Gallant