Justin Asher
Jan 31, 2019 · 7 min read

It’s not often that one gets to write a story. Not at least one that tells the story of someone else and their tragic tale.

When deciding what to do with this I wasn’t sure how the story would go. Would it be a story of someone else, someone who had fought cancer and survived? Would it be a tale of a young person who went from one life threatening disease to another? I see this quite often; just as they’ve been given the all clear on one form of cancer, the doctors tell them they’re developing a second form of the deadly disease. Oh boy.

I was once told about a story of a young man who beat cancer at the tender age of five; well actually he was nine by the time it was all over, but let’s say five because that’s when it started. When that same man was 74 the cancer returned and took his life not too long after. Unfortunately, not many people know what this man went on to achieve during his lifetime; but the point is that he lived through hell when he was young and continued to grow up and live the most normal of normal lives until his late adulthood.

I tossed and turned about how this story would be told. I couldn’t really decide whether I even wanted to do it. It’s a tough ask actually, deciding what it is you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it and why you want to achieve it. Goals they say, set yourself goals and everything will be clear.

Initially, I just wanted a platform where my sister could share her feelings with the world. A Platform where she could share her stories with the world and let the world comment and let her know that they’re here with her 100% of the way. I didn’t think that was too hard to achieve and she seemed pretty creative; so heck, why not?

I soon realised that my idea was impractical. I cannot ask my fifteen-year-old sister to write me a birthday card, let alone an entire book. Who was I kidding.

There’s nothing worse than watching a movie, which jumps back, and forth. I’ve seen a few of them. They tell the story of Bank Robber “A”; then just moments before he gets killed by the SWAT team the film jumps back to the story of how Bank Robber “B” met Bank Robber “A”, became involved in the deal and then also gets shot. Just when you thought you’d see the SWAT team celebrating, the film darts away and delves into the morning of the robbery and shows what the Bank Manager did and how he is somehow involved and friendly with Bank Robbers “A” and “B”. Finally, we see SWAT celebrating and the credits roll.

As annoying as that is, I felt it was the best way to tell this story, so throughout you will be privy to stories from those close to me, my personal feelings as well as my sisters. You’ll learn about how the family has dealt with this disease and how it’s brought us all together, and in some cases made us more distant.

I hope that by the end of reading this, you will have a good sense as to how my sister dealt with her cancer from the day she was diagnosed to the day she passed away, you’ll understand what us — as family — were going through, and you’ll also have insight into how our friends and close relatives reacted to the news and became our tanker of support.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the people who believed in me and pushed me to put this book together and supported me during this journey.

My step-dad’s mother, Neva, who maintained I had it within me to be a writer — I still don’t know what that means but I know somewhere between the stars “Granny Neva” is watching down on me and following this story with great interest.

Lucy, Karen, Esther and the rest of the “Korean Entourage”. You were there with us in real-time and if you’re reading this book I hope you find comfort in the stories we share from our time together. Thank you for keeping us together during the most difficult time of our life and thank you for welcoming us into your lives and supporting us the way you did.

My former boss and mentor, Darren McKay, who afforded me the opportunity of running his advertising agency and allowed me to keep my job whilst I spent time in South Korea looking after Kim; and in the months after her passing. Anytime I needed to talk, vent, have a drink or walk out the office for personal reasons, Darren supported me. When I left his company a few months after Kim’s death, Darren and I both knew we’d always stay in contact and remain friends.

Robyn. For being by my side through it all regardless of the challenges we faced in our own relationship. You were a rock to my little sister and never took her crap. I appreciate that so much and words, chapters, interviews, publications or blogs will never be able to express my gratitude. Come what may.

Kate, as my sister-in-law you spent the latter part of your teenage years getting to know Kim. I’m sorry she wasn’t there with you walking down the aisle before you said “I do” alongside my brother, but without you I don’t know how we — as a family — would have managed. You lost your dad and then quite shortly after your little sister. Having you in Korea with me was such a relief because not only did you allow Kim to keep her dignity (like when she needed help on the toilet) but you also helped me keep everyone together the day she passed. Thank you Kate, thank you.

Dad… where do I start? You had a tough relationship with Kim at the end. There’s no doubting that. The night before she passed away she sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and it had nothing to do with her illness. All she wanted to know was that you’d forgiven her and would continue to love her no matter how crazy she’d become or how insane some of the things she said had seemed. I don’t think I’ve told you that, and I hope you read this. Now you know.

My mom is the weirdest person on the planet. But I love her to bits. She tells the butterflies, the plants, and anyone else who listens how amazing I am. So much so that my brothers refer to me as “the favourite son” whilst she calls me her “favourite eldest son”. Thanks for believing I can do this, mommy.

Rodney is my step-dad and probably the cleverest human being who is not a doctor, scientist, professor or whatever else. At least that’s how he comes across. Rod, thanks for your guidance, your help, your inspiration and your two-cents on everything I do. Thanks for taking care of my little sister throughout her illness and thanks for the sleepless nights researching all sorts of treatment options. Thank you for sticking with us after all the emotional trauma we’ve had to deal with and thanks for being a loving husband to my mom. Thanks for investing in illegal substances to try save my little sister; I’m sorry it was all in vein but I know what we as a family gained from this experience and I know how it brought us all so much closer together. Thank you.

Ricky and Laurie, my two brothers. We fight like brothers fight and we argue like brothers will argue but at the end of the day, Kim’s passing showed that when the time comes and we need each other, like brothers do, we’ll be there for one and other. You guys drive me insane; but I love you.

Belinda, my Editor-In-Chief when I first began writing this book. I don’t know if you’ll ever read this book but words escape me when I think about how I can thank you for the efforts you put in and the guidance you gave me on how to write, what to write, and when to write it all. I really hope this finds you and I hope you’re proud of what is to come.

Mr. David Clark, the teachers, staff, pupils and “family” at Reddam Constantia. I don’t need to say much here, except to say thank you. My sister loved every minute of her time with you and only had amazing things to say about everyone and everything to do with the school. You were incredible to her and the Reddam family’s generous contributions toward Kim’s treatment will leave our family eternally grateful. Thank you.

To Mary and Pretty for their everlasting loyalty, love and commitment to our family. Sometimes we drive each other insane, but you ladies proved how valuable friendships really are. You both continued to work around us whilst we mourned Kim’s passing and managed to somehow deal with your own emotions in a magical kind of way. Many will agree that you two were responsible for holding us all together at this time.

Finally, to everyone else I have not named. Sometime in recent years I’ve thanked you all personally. Please don’t be alarmed that I never included you above by name; there’s always the second edition! Thank you for believing in me, thank you for giving me the time of day and thank you for supporting my family and I all these years. If it weren’t for your support and comments this book would not be possible.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story with you.

Happy reading.

Love You Kim

A true story about a teenage cancer patient