My name is Kim Walker. I’m a 43-year-old mother of two. I suppose I’m an intrepid sort of person – having travelled the world extensively – who gets out into it. Though, I have to say, meeting my partner Ben and having children has slowed me down quite a bit.
On February 2 this year, I casually scratched my stomach while stretching and felt a lump. It was big and scary and I knew that it was wrong. An ultrasound the next day showed something was on my liver. I then had a CT scan which came back telling me the lump was benign but my GP (to whom I will be eternally grateful) said, “Let’s just make sure” and sent me to a surgeon. Before long, I was having major surgery.
It was February 27 2015 – the day after my 43rd birthday. The surgeon thought it was a cancer but it wasn’t confirmed until after the liver resection. He got the whole tumor with a good margin and none of the swollen lymph nodes were cancerous so everyone was happy. But then we found out that it was bile duct cancer – which means that I have a 40 percent survival chance over the next five years.
I was just making my way along like anyone else and all of a sudden I have to worry if I will have a life to live at all. I don’t even think I can communicate clearly how devastating it has been for me, for my family and for all of our friends. I spent the first month or so weeping at the drop of a hat…and I am not a crier, not at all. I felt like I was on the outside of the world looking in. Like I was suddenly locked out of the world that everyone else was living in. I am separate from everyone around me, and I still don’t understand quite how it happened. I feel so sad, and terrified, and so terribly guilty for what my family is being made to go though. It is not just me who has cancer…my whole family has it. We’re all trying to find a way to live with it. Me? I’m just trying to find a way to live.
Ben’s employer has been incredibly supportive. They have hired someone to cover his management duties for 6 months, so that he can work from home and be available for us. He’s a great dad and partner and I couldn’t get through any of this without him. It kills me to think that I might die and leave Ben and the kids. It keeps me up at night, this hollow and helpless terror. But I have to try to get past it and focus on getting well and staying well. The statistics are bad but I don’t have to be a statistic. If there is a survival curve here, I just have to find a way to make sure I am out in front. Some people survive this and I want to be one of them. For my kids’ sake, I need to be one of them.
I wish that no one else will ever find themselves in this situation. It is a horrible place to be and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I talk to family and friends honestly and cry when I need to, without shame. I try to laugh as much as possible. And I try to tell myself how lucky I am because, really, there are millions of people in this world who would kill to have the fortunate life I have lived, even the life that I am living now. There are people in fear for their lives and those of their family on a daily basis – from violence, starvation and disease. It doesn’t feel like much at the moment but really I have to be honest and say that I am a very lucky person who just happens to have cancer.
The road ahead will not be easy for the Walker-Cook family however your donation will help fund research and support for people just like them.