Tim Walker: ‘working’ through cancer

Published 11:00 pm Friday, July 6, 2012

If there were any laws against child labor, Tim Walker was not affected by them.

He started working at the Western Auto store in Troy when he was 12 years old. When he was old enough to drive a motorbike, he was sweeping and mopping floors at the hospital. He’s always worked hard, lived modestly and paid his bills.

“I’ve never drawn one penny of unemployment,” Walker said. “I want to work. I don’t know anything but work. But, the day is coming when I won’t be able to work and can’t pay my bills.”

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That day could be a week or two away.

In April, Walker was diagnosed with stage 3 “throat cancer.”

“It has a big, long, scary name that I can’t even say,” he said. “But, it’s cancer and it’s eating away at my throat. The treatments to stop it are wearing me down.”

Walker has scaled back his work to part time at Discount Auto in Troy. He is blessed that Mike Johnson and his wife, Millie, are so understanding of his situation and so supportive of him.

“There aren’t two better people,” he said.

“They’re letting me work however I can. Without my job, I don’t know what I’d do. But, I just don’t have any energy. And, I know that it’s going to get worse before I get better.”

In the early spring, Walker noticed that his energy level was dropping. He lost his appetite and all he wanted to do when he got home from work was go to bed.

“I thought it might do me some good to do a little fishing,” he said. “It was hot so I took my shirt off and that’s when I noticed the knot on my neck.”

Walker realized that the lump was something that needed immediate attention.

“I saw a doctor and he recommended a biopsy,” Walker said. “I think he knew already that I had cancer. I had surgery and the doctor said he got all of the cancer that he could see. But he found that the cancer had come from the back of my tongue. The only thing that could be done was radiation and chemotherapy.”

Walker said the treatments for his cancer cause his throat and mouth to be filled with blisters.

“My throat is so sore and raw,” he said. “The doctors told me that toward the end of the treatments, I won’t be able to eat or even swallow. So, they went ahead and put in a feeding tube. I’m still able to work though.”

Walker’s treatment plan is eight rounds of chemotherapy and 40 radiation treatments. He has completed six of the chemo treatments and 24 radiation treatments.

He takes radiation treatments Monday through Friday in Montgomery and chemotherapy and radiation on Thursdays.

“I’m out of work all day on Thursdays,” he said. “I wish I could come in but I just can’t.

“I’ve got blisters in my mouth and I lose my voice. I’m getting weaker every day. I know I can’t start getting better until all the treatments are over. But I keep pushing myself because I know that I’ve got to live with all of this if I want to keep living – and I do.

“Cancer is the scariest thing that I have ever been through. They are so good to me at the Montgomery Cancer Center, but I get scared when I pull into the parking lot and I’m scared until I pull out. Having all this happen to you and not knowing what’s next is hard to deal with.”

To compound his worries, Walker said his bills are mounting.

“My co-pay is high and every time I go for treatments, more is added to my bill,” he said. “I’ve always tried to pay my bills and not being able to pay what I owe is a big worry.

“When cancer comes into your life, everything changes. I’m losing everything and I’m trying to hold onto the belief that things are going to get better some way … some how.

“They tell me at the cancer center to smile because I’m alive. They said I can’t worry about bills and get well at the same time. But, I can’t help but worry and I try not to because I want to get well so much.”

A fund has been set up in Walker’s name at Troy Bank & Trust to assist with expenses associated with the treatment of his cancer.