Just the other day I was thinking about a good childhood friend of mine named Jacob. We started out in kindergarten together. I remember, since Jacob was Jewish, his mother coming to school to tell us how they celebrated Hanukah. We played dreidel games and ate potato latkes.
In sixth grade, Jacob was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He missed a lot of school getting treatments that my parents told me made him feel really sick. At one point, he lost all of his dark brown hair.
Our group of friends got together, raised some money, then went to the mall to buy Jacob these cool toys we knew he’d like—gadgets that would make him smile when he felt bad. I remember the look on his face when we gave him everything. He was shocked and speechless, almost embarrassed by all of the attention.
I hadn’t thought of Jacob and his cancer in years, but he came to mind after I talked to Buck Walker on the phone this summer. Buck’s youngest son, Knox, is battling leukemia. He’s seven years old. Since August 2016, the Walkers have been traveling back and forth to UVA for his chemo treatments.
With a child of my own sleeping in the other room right now, I can only imagine how tough it is to hear that diagnosis then watch the painful side effects that follow. Then, all of the “what ifs” as you wait for test results to come back.
But the Walkers—wow—they impressed me with their outlook.
Their calm. Their faith in God to guide them. In fact, I spoke with three other people affected by cancer for this issue, as we chose to focus on oncology for our 1st Annual Lynchburg Living Top Docs issue. (Read all of their stories starting on page 66.) While cancer is scary and intimidating, I left each conversation so encouraged and inspired. I heard about the incredible doctors and nurses who helped them along the way, the support they found from family, and the strength they unearthed in themselves. Each person fought cancer… and came out on the other side an improved person, more grateful and more giving.
Maybe we should all live like we’ve beaten cancer. The world might be a better place.
By the way, Jacob beat cancer. And more than 20 years later, he has a pretty cool resume that includes Broadway, directing, producing, acting—you name it.
I can’t wait to find out where life takes Knox.
Shelley Basinger, Managing Editor
P.S.: To my father in law, Larry, who has been fighting Acute Myleoid Leukemia this year, you’ve got this! I hope we hear the word “remission” very soon.