If you are here reading this, then I expect you have a connection to "Big Jim Walker" who is unfortunately quite sick.
This post / journal entry is guest-authored by his son James R., aka. "Medium Jim".
For many of you this will be the first time you are hearing that Big Jim has cancer.
We first heard the news that it was likely cancer about 3 weeks ago, and the diagnosis was confirmed 1.5 weeks ago on February 5. (Endoscopy Jan 17, follow-on MRI and full results shortly thereafter.)
In the bad news column we have to count the type of cancer and prognosis. It's Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer (Adenocarcinoma) which carries a dismal prognosis. If the chemotherapy works, we should have something like 11 months with Big Jim. (Median expectation, only God knows for certain.) If the chemotherapy isn't effective, we will have a much shorter time with him.
In the good news column, we have several things to be thankful for:
1) Big Jim is a hell of a man and carries a rarified strength and iron-clad constitution.
2) Big Jim lives with his daughter Katie who provides much of the care and transportation needed.
3) He sees his grandchildren Molly (9), Gavin (3), and the five-month old twins Brenna and Braeden daily.
4) He has good doctors
5) His spirits are notably calm and positive.
Like you, I (James) have always known Big Jim to be a strong character. Even so, I find it remarkable how strong he is in the face of a tough situation. I think this comes, in part, from the confidence he has in having already lived a wonderful life to date. He married the love of his life and raised five children, all of whom have graduated colelge, one as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and otherwise successfully launched their adult lives. (No major jailtime served!) I also think much of dad's peace comes from a strength that seems common in his siblings from south Alabama.
Let's touch on a few more health-realted details.
The treatment options at hand don't currently include radiation or surgery, so it's chemotherapy. (There has not yet been any talk of Immunotherapy or clinical trials.) There were a couple options available, and to Jim's credit he chose the most aggressive drug which gives the best shot of being effective (shrinking the tumor) and also carries the most side effects.
What a stud.
His first treatment was Wednesday, Feb 12, and now is the time when it impacts his body the most. He is doing quite well with all that and only shows minor nausea and lower energy. I expect we should see diminishing side effects and increasing energy in the coming 10 days.
The chemotherapy treatments come in a 2-week cycle and will continue for a couple months until the next round of scans and diagnostics.
During this time, there are of course numerous clinical visits in and around Chesapeake and Suffolk, Virginia.
If you're wondering how you can help, here are a few ideas:
1. Childcare for Katie's babies or kids during treatments, visits, or any other days that make sense. Maybe you can make an offer?
2. Giving Big Jim a ride to / from an appointment. (The hydration visits are a fine time to spend a few hours with him as he's "trapped" in a comfortable chair and could use some good company to pass the time. I told him all about how I plan to take my Little League team to another championship, and I think I might have bored him to sleep! Haha.)
3. Send some love and support: post a note / message here, send him a text or email, or drop some comments on his upcming Facebook posts and updates!
3.b. Record a short video of yourself and send to him via email / text / YouTube / Duo. (I love doing this and post my videos to YouTube as an Unlisted video, so only folks with the link can see it. It's like a video voicemail!)
4. Schedule a time to talk with him by phone.
5. Cook a meal for him and his supporting team and housemates, the Gladwells. While they may not need help here right now, they likely will in the future.
6. Follow the updates here (which I expect to get posted to Facebook) and look for opportunities to help on his Post Hope Calendar!
Thank you for reading, and thank you for loving my dad.