« Sigiriya | Main | Norse Teast Match »

A Life Less Lost: Chapter 30

...'You should consider carefully how you wish to spend what time you might have left with James.'

The doctor's words feel like a death sentence. My tongue has become a Velcro-covered radiator, air can barely get past into my gasping lungs...

Kimm Walker hears terrible words from a doctor treating her son who is battling with cancer.

To purchase a copy of Kimm's profoundly moving and uplifting book 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/

As the extended family has grown, the tradition has evolved that we get together with Howard's brothers and sisters and families in the week after Christmas. This takes the hassle out of whose in-laws you visit each year and enables most of us to have Christmas in our own homes. We live roughly in the centre of the country for our relatives that live in Scotland and those who live near London. Howard's mum is nearby so in the days following Christmas, our home fills with visitors and James asks me not to share this new development with them.

I am staggered by his acting ability. He's as silly and fun-loving as always, sledging with the rest of the family, crutches and all, and having a great time. I have to look very closely to see the tight grip he has on himself.

The whole-body scans and tests are booked for my birthday. It snows all day but I manage to get James to the hospital in Leeds and Howard and David meet us at Meadowhall afterwards for a film, to celebrate. There is nowhere to eat so we end up driving back to Leeds for a meal. We're home by 8 pm because James has a party to go to.

Howard, David and I decide to take an evening walk along the cliffs above the Holme Valley and Pat, Jim and Lucy come along, too. It's magical. We're warm with walking in the deep sparkling snow, the lights below us twinkle and the children (including Howard) enjoy diving head first into the drifts.

James and I go back to hospital for his results. With a huge smile the doctor, a woman we've not come across before, informs us that the tests all show that James is clear. I desperately want to believe this confident professional. But James is still very unhappy about the lump in his groin. He presses her to assure him she's 100% certain it can't be cancer.

I trust my son and want him to know that I take his fears seriously, even if the different doctors seem to want to brush them aside. On the desk, in front of this doctor, is a bulging lever arch file with James' notes. I know from dealing with teaching records that too much information is impossible
to read and consider. Often the important bits are missed.

'I think James is worried because the surgeon who performed the amputation phoned us with the pathology results on his leg.' I speak clearly in defence of my son. 'He said there was evidence that the small blood vessels and lymph nodes had been infiltrated by the cancer.'

The colour vanishes from the doctor's face and she flies out of the room. When she returns, she informs us that an appointment has been booked to remove the lymph gland the following week.

The new school term has started and I've returned to work so Howard takes James for this operation.

The surgeon tells them it wasn't what he'd expected to find and he isn't happy with the colour of the lymph gland. We're to come back on Monday for the pathology results. The next day, Kenneth takes James for the first fitting of his new artificial leg.

I can't face going to school on Monday without knowing what the latest report will be, so Howard, James and I all sit silently, without breathing, in the doctor's office. The news is devastating. The gland was swollen with cancer and because it's come whilst James was having chemotherapy, it is chemical resistant. The doctor suggests a long shot - radical surgery to remove all the lymph nodes up James' stump and into his pelvis, right back to his kidneys. There are no guarantees that it will work or that the cancer isn't already in his blood. If it reappears, there is nothing left to try.

'You should consider carefully how you wish to spend what time you might have left with James.'

The doctor's words feel like a death sentence. My tongue has become a Velcro-covered radiator, air can barely get past into my gasping lungs. My vision flashes red and black, ghostly movements a long way away tell me I've left my body somehow. I phone my headmistress, who suggests I take the rest of the week off and let her know what's happening next, when we've had time to think.

Thinking isn't something I have much appetite for, especially at night, when worries grow into nightmares that start while I'm still awake. One
thing that seems to still the fears enough for me to get some sleep, is reading the Bible. I reach for the tiny Gideon's version, that they hand out in high schools, and I'm directed to passages specific for my needs, a useful life belt for the drowning.


Not long after my mother died, I was home alone one day, when two middle-aged women appeared at the door and asked if they could speak to me. They were Jehovah's Witnesses and, as I was interested to know more about God, I invited them in. They spoke at length and left a stack of reading materials for me but I was deeply disturbed by the picture they painted of the God they believed in. It was not the loving Father of my limited experience, or the image I had grown up with, at all.

I looked up some of the quotes I'd been given and found they'd been lifted completely out of context and even reworded in parts. Who was right? Why were there so many different ways to worship one God? I decided to read the Bible, from the beginning, and try to see for myself what God was like, what He wanted. Regular Bible reading became part of my life. Even though sometimes my eyes would merely skim the page or the words would make little sense, occasionally a passage would 'light up' and I began to learn more about our Lord.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.