When our son Jamie was 13 years old he played goalie on a pretty good soccer team. He was also a faithful Aaronic Priesthood holder and tried his best to honour that calling. Life was busy. He practiced and played numerous games. He was fearless in his defense of his goal. Often he got clipped or flattened by opposing players equally determined to score against him. Jamie always got back up (sometimes after first aid) to resume his position. The game was physically tough and played in all weather conditions. Life in our family was busy. I tried to find a balance between church and our children’s outside activities.
I remember riding in the ambulance transferring Jamie from Surrey Memorial Hospital to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. We were met in emergency by a surgeon who explained that our precious son had Hodgkin’s disease and would require surgery to determine the extent of the disease and how much chemotherapy he would need. Too little chemo and the cancer wouldn’t be gone, too much and his chances of having a family would disappear.
My world started spinning and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t eat. My husband, Peter and I were desperate to believe our son would get well. Jamie received a priesthood blessing indicating that he would or could recover. I searched for spiritual light to help me be strong enough to support our son, my husband and our two young daughters through this trial. Elder L. Whitney Clayton in his April 2015 Conference address tells us that, “Perceiving spiritual light is different from seeing physical light. Recognizing the Saviour’s spiritual light begins with our willingness to believe.” I was willing to believe. God requires that, initially, we, at least, desire to believe. Alma says, '…if ye will awake and arouse your facilities…(Alma 32:27) and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if we can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of the Saviour's word,'
That desire to believe is where my husband started. He isn't a member of the Church but has always supported me in my faith. He also has been supportive of our children being in the Church. Peter was particularly distraught at the seriousness of the illness. I talked to my Stake President who was someone my husband knew and liked. I asked him if he would bless my husband who is not a member of the Church. He agreed. That blessing was the only thing that seemed to calm him. During the course of the investigative surgery, Jamie’s spleen was removed.
I remember the feeling of peace that came over me as Peter and I sat in a “quiet room” waiting for the surgeon to finish. I decided that, unless I had it in writing Jamie would get well. I decided to believe the words of his blessing. I decided to believe the Saviour was protecting our son by having him in the place where he could get the best care. I decided to believe in the skill of the surgeon and other doctors who would determine the best treatment for him. I decided to stop being panic-stricken and start looking for guidance from the Saviour so that I would be able to help our family be strong.
Jamie needed to miss a fair amount of school while he traveled to and from the hospital. This really worried him as he had always worked very hard at his grades. I contacted his teachers and had work sent home for him. This was something he could think about instead of just counting the days until the next chemo. He did his best on the days that he had energy and never stopped trying to do the work. His friends at church and in the community cheered him on and treated him with dignity and respect. Since Jamie couldn't play soccer we bought a really cool table soccer game that was often in enthusiastic use. A few kids in the neighbourhood and at school gave him grief, but they were in the minority. One kid punched him at school in his barely healed stomach. However, Jamie plowed on with his school year and with his treatment. He ended up tying with another boy for the highest grade average of 92%. The standing ovation they both received at the final school assembly brought tears to my eyes. This time, they were tears of joy for him.