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A Life Less Lost: Chapter 18

...I don't want to hear the words that confirm what I can see with my own eyes. But they slice through me anyway. Dr Edwards has made us an appointment to begin radiotherapy alongside the chemotherapy. There is a sense of desperation in this suggestion, a subtle implication in the way he looks at me that we should begin to prepare ourselves for the worst...

Kimm Walker continues her profoundly moving and uplifting account of how her family coped with the serious illness of a 15-year-old son.

To purchase a copy A Life Less Lost click on http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=A+Life+Less+Lost

And do visit Kimm's Web site http://kbwalker-lifelesslost.blogspot.com/

The chemotherapy is adjusted, but the tumour continues to grow. James is in constant pain. I can see it in the pinched muscles of his face and the old-man movements of his body. His skin has a sea-sick pallor. He doesn't complain but he is quiet, a sure sign that things are bad.

I don't want to think what this means. The long wait in clinic to see the doctor is even harder than usual. I can't sit still, can't concentrate on reading, can't think of anything to talk to James about. He's ignoring me anyway, trying to vanish into a hand held game. The air is stuffy, laden with smells I don't want to identify. The room is full of people.

A play coordinator tries to engage the younger children. Some of them are swollen with steroids, tubes snaking from their noses; some are stick thin, hairless and unnaturally quiet. But most continue to play, tussle over the best toys or beg for treats. This isn't our normal pre-chemo appointment so the families we've come to know aren't here today. The parents are subdued. We look like naughty children waiting outside a headmaster's office to hear our punishment. We must have done something horribly wrong; we just don't know what it is.

I don't want to hear the words that confirm what I can see with my own eyes. But they slice through me anyway. Dr Edwards has made us an appointment to begin radiotherapy alongside the chemotherapy. There is a sense of desperation in this suggestion, a subtle implication in the way he looks at me that we should begin to prepare ourselves for the worst.

*

When it was David's turn for the 'Father and Son Talk', he was more prepared and endured it with less drama than James. David soon settled into high school and we were relieved to learn that he was doing well because he was often negative in his comments about homework and school in general. He didn't have any time for the 'in-crowd' but seemed to make friends with people who were on the fringe of things. One friend called for him each morning to walk to school and they made a most unusual pair. David was growing at speed and fast approaching the six foot two inches he would finish at. His friend on the other hand was one of the shortest boys in the class and just to complete the picture had the most amazing, long, bushy hair that seemed to grow straight out from the side of his head. David also befriended another boy, Tom, who was new to the school. His parents, Tim and Hazel, joined our 'Badminton Buddies'.

We never worried about David succumbing to peer pressure, as he seemed to have a clear desire for self-preservation and personal comfort. He was perfectly happy to take himself off to bed early if he was tired, wasn't interested in drinking to excess because he didn't like the way it made him feel and I doubt he could be enticed to try drugs or any of the other teen temptations that have risks attached. We worried sometimes at his quietness and fear of performing, yet this care for himself spoke of a deeper, more secure foundation of self-esteem.

James, on the other hand, who came across as extremely confident, thrived on being the centre of attention. He was intensely aware of appearances and what his friends might think. We were fairly certain he would go along with any daft or dangerous suggestion made by a friend, despite what his conscience might tell him. This made his teen years full of difficulty and meant we were often at odds. Fortunately, he was blessed with quite a large circle of exceptional young men as friends, who cared enough to look out for him when they could. But he also had a few friends who were as daft as he was and it was often a volatile combination.

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