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“I hope a car hits us”. Kate Langbroek on the darkest moments of her son’s cancer diagnosis.

Australian radio identity Kate Langbroek has had an eventful life. 

She was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, left the faith – and her parents – at just 18, met and then briefly separated from her future husband because he was “controlling”; and yet, nothing could prepare her for the darkest time in her life, when her son Lewis battled cancer.

The 53-year-old mum opens up about all of these experiences on PodcastOne’s A Life Of Greatness, released today, but is especially candid about her experience of having her eldest child almost die.

Langbroek, who describes her husband since 2003, Peter Lewis, as “calm and beautiful” and someone who’s “made me a better person” has four children: Lewis, 15, Sunday, 14, Artie, 12, and Jannie, nine. 

In January this year, the family moved to Bologna, Italy, for an adventure, deciding to live life to the fullest after nearly losing Lewis.

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Lewis was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2009, and battled to beat it for three-and-a-half years. 

Describing the devastation of the diagnosis which changed their lives just before Christmas that year, Langbroek explains how difficult it was as a parent to face.

 “He nearly died,” she recalls.

“And you want to die, too.

“There were times when we were driving to the hospital and I’d think, ‘I hope a car hits us’. Because I cannot endure this.

But you have to endure it because if you can’t endure how can you possibly expect him to endure it? If his mother cannot make him feel like it’s going to be alright, who can?”

Langbroek adds that after living her life until she was 18 as a Jehovah’s Witness, she struggled to find a source of solace to support her through Lewis’ illness.

“I thought I could no longer believe in a religion because I didn’t want to be a Jehovah’s Witness,” she says. 

“But when Lewis was sick like that, I had to find a faith beyond. I had to go find that in me to continue.”

Langbroek discovered that her solid network of family and friends would provide what she needed. 

“Everyone came, from all their faiths,” she shares. 

“Friends of Mum and Dad from [the] church they go to now…Catholic friends of ours…Everyone was saying prayers for us. Jewish friends of ours. Our Muslim babysitter.

“Everyone was saying prayers for Lewis.”

Langbroek firmly believes the faith from those around them was a crucial part of her son’s recovery.

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“There was something about the comfort of that and the humanness of that that I think gave us the strength to keep going.

“Winston Churchill said…’If you ever find yourself going through hell, keep going’. And I would say to my mother-in-law, Marie, ‘Well we can’t stay here because here is terrible. We just have to keep going. 

“And we had a miracle.” 

In 2013, Lewis was officially recovered from his cancer.

For the mum-of-four, the experience put parenthood into perspective. Referencing the day when Lewis was in hospital for a lumbar puncture, and Jannie in emergency for a broken wrist, Langbroek says they realised if something wasn’t cancer, it didn’t seem as important.

 “We had not noticed [it] for three days!”, she laughs.

Lewis’ illness has certainly helped show Langbroek the importance of celebrating the good moments in life; especially, as she says, it wasn’t something that was encouraged as she was growing up.

Langbroek uses the example of not being able to celebrate birthdays as a Jehovah’s Witness.

“It was a very good way of dividing and isolating people from others they might become with,” she explains.

“We were starved of fun.”

According to Langbroek, it’s why “As an adult, I’m very easily entertained.”

Life is very different for Langbroek, and her family, in Bologna, these days.

“They eat great food, and they’re great people,” Langbroek says of Italy.

Describing what it’s like to live abroad, she says “It’s brilliant and difficult and challenging and exhausting.”

But no matter how all-consuming her current adventure is, Langbroek is everyday aware of one thing now more than anything else:

“I’m grateful all of my kids are alive.”

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