James Lawrence: A Young Athlete Who Passed Away Too Soon
Tue, 09/20/2016 - 2:37pm Douglas1
Kristen Kitchens Enterprise Staff Writer
Kristina is also a member of The Childhood Cancer Awareness Group, who she says, “found her” during a very difficult time. “To be honest, I would try and avoid it because I didn’t like talking about his cancer and I didn’t want people knowing about it. But they found me and took us in and they have been such a blessing. They are all a wonderful group of people and even built him a ramp at our house and people need to know that. They need to understand what these people to do for our kids in Coffee County.”
James Lawrence, the son of Kristina Jefferson, fought hard and with no complaints through his battle with cancer before he passed away in November 2012. Though his nine month battle of cancer was anything but easy, Kristina stated that the sickness never took away from his outgoing and optimistic personality.
“He was a ball of fire, that is for sure. Through his entire battle, he kept us up and helped us get through it. He was always strong for us,” Kristina said.
When James was thirteen, his mother and family noticed a lump had developed on his knee and his grandmother realized that he had not been eating. “He loved fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and I would always cook him his favorite meal. One day I had made it and he barely ate and that is when I knew something was wrong,” his grandmother, Janette Walker, stated.
The symptoms led his family to take him to a doctor, and on February 13, 2012, James was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.
“Cancer was honestly the furthest thing from my mind. I researched the night before and was looking at all of his symptoms online when I came across his type of cancer. When we found out the diagnosis, it was exactly what I had been reading about online,” Kristina said.
The tumor led to James having to get his leg amputated, but Kristina said he “took it like a champ” and was up trying to walk the following day. “He did not complain once. He smiled through it all, even the amputation. He never even acted like it fazed him. He probably also enjoyed the attention he was getting from all of the girls since they were wheeling him around in the wheel chair!” Kristina stated.
The cancer ultimately spread to James’ lungs, and he began chemo immediately. The chemo lasted until October, but the cancer was still spreading fast.
“Even though he had to have his leg amputated and we were struggling with everything, we thought he would be okay. We didn’t expect him to go so soon, we thought things were getting better,” Kristina said.
While all of his friends and family were praying, the cancer was spreading rapidly. James was set to be put on a waiting list for a trial that would could possibly help save his life, but it was too late.
Seventeen days after lung surgery, James passed away when his lungs collapsed. The following Monday, the family was contacted and asked about his case for the trial.
“It was a rough, so very rough, but we had a lot of support. We wouldn’t have gotten through it if we hadn’t had all stuck together. We never thought that it would happen,” Kristina said.
Kristina described James as a very athletic, old soul who loved sports. “He loved all sports and his favorite player of all time with Lebron James. He would’ve been an athlete for sure. He already was! He was always running around and flipping, I had a gymnast on my hands,” Kristina stated while laughing.
Kristina also stated that their support system is one thing she will always be grateful for. “His uncle Brian Walker was always there for him. He was at every doctor’s appointment and surgery. James was crazy about him and without him we would’ve been lost. He took on that father figure for James and I couldn’t have been more thankful.”
Kristina also smiled as she talked about James favorite teacher, Stan Hughes, and when the Coffee High Trojans recognized him at a football game at Jardine Stadium. “He loved Stan. He was always talking about him and thought the world of him,” she stated.
Kristina is also a member of The Childhood Cancer Awareness Group, who she says, “found her” during a very difficult time.
“To be honest, I would try and avoid it because I didn’t like talking about his cancer and I didn’t want people knowing about it. But they found me and took us in and they have been such a blessing. They are all a wonderful group of people and even built him a ramp at our house and people need to know that. They need to understand what these people to do for our kids in Coffee County.” Although James is no longer here on Earth, his family still feels his spirit today and they light up when his name is said. “He was amazing. He was a wonderful child and it’s been rough, but we know he is looking down on us today.”
See page 5A in the Wednesday, September 14, 2016, edition of The Douglas Enterprise.