Penny and James Walker in hospital.
Penny and James Walker in hospital. Contributed

Coast student in fight for life after horror diagnosis

CHANCELLOR Park's James Walker fell over running around a pool leaving him with a bruised knee.

Three days later he was in an ambulance being rushed to Brisbane in the middle of the night.

It was there, in March with his parents Adrian and Penny by his side, doctors told him the dreaded c-word.

Hearing the official diagnosis of t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, one of the worst forms of cancer for boys, rocked the Walkers to their core. They were six weeks away from a holiday to Greece.

With the Mediterranean plans put swiftly on the backburner, James began treatment straight away.


Sunshine Coast student James Walker in hospital surrounded by loved ones.
Sunshine Coast student James Walker in hospital surrounded by loved ones. Contributed

The fall proved a godsend, allowing a small window to be opened to give them and the doctors a 90 per cent chance of success.

But the six months of intensive treatment turned into nine and the fall backs kept coming. They saw their 170cm son's weight drop to as low as 38kg.

"Basically it is not a nice disease to have, full stop," Mr Walker said.

"The side effects were something like a one in 300,000 chance. And he got them.

"He had sore toes, his jaw was so sore he couldn't eat. He would faint.

"The drugs gave him low salt levels so that he would hallucinate, really vividly too."

While James is now out of hospital and able to have monthly treatment on the Sunshine Coast, the Walkers' lives as they know it have been thrown off tilt.

They considered themselves to be fortunately in a "good" financial state and initially refused help but as months went by it became evident finances were going to be stretched.


James Walker and his best friend Jayden.
James Walker and his best friend Jayden. Contributed

Mr Walker, an electrician, found his mind wandering off, away from the job and soon was unable to work.

And as their income depleted to solely look after their son and the pressure of mortgage hanging over their heads, their situation was cloudy.

James' aunt set up a GoFundMe page to support the family which "blew them away".

"All of the support and the comments has been totally overwhelming," he said.

"The Lady Cilento Children's Hospital wellfare unit is just amazing.

"We have had help from so many people. And people who understand what a daunting task it is.

"Childhood Cancer Support, Red Kite, Leaukaemia Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and the staff at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital. It is hard to put to words how much they do.

"You get a call from the pathology and are told to bring a night bag, then you're in Brisbane in a life and death situation."

To help James and his family, you can donate via his Go Fund Me page.