In just two weeks, Lawrence Hamm went from running a school to being told he had terminal brain cancer. But if you met him today, you wouldn’t know that.
"People keep asking me ‘Lawrence, you seem so calm and at peace," Mr. Hamm, Superintendent/CEO of Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary & Middle Schools (WMEMS) says over a video message from his home. "I liken that to my deep faith and the people that are praying for me."
An emergency CT scan in February forced an emergency surgery to remove a large tumour from Hamm’s brain. Tests revealed the tumours to be glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer. Doctors provided a six-week treatment plan that included double radiation five days a week and chemotherapy seven days a week, aggressive treatment for aggressive cancer.
"I know it’s not going to be easy, and I’ll be knocked down a bunch of times," Hamm says. "I’m prepared for it and I’m ready to go forward and fight this as hard as I can."
Mr. Hamm has been a presence at the school and in the community for the past 14 years. While he has had to step away from the job he loves for a bit, the community has not forgotten about him.
"I never realized how many people I’ve spoken to or had a positive interaction with over the years and what that’s meant to them." Mr. Hamm said he has been flooded with messages from his school, church, and motocross community.
The first time he walked into Health Sciences Centre, he ran into a former WMEMS parent. He was the ER attending physician. "We got this, we got your back," the doctor told Mr. Hamm. As Mr. Hamm went into his operation, he spotted the anesthesiologist, another school parent. In the neuro ward, a research doctor and a WMEMS parent went out of his way to help put Mr. Hamm at ease.
"This has been a very humbling experience for me. I’ve had to learn how to accept help from others."
The radiologist went to school with Mr. Hamm’s wife, and the brain surgeon said he has never had so many people reach out to him about a single patient. "Who don’t you know?" the surgeon joked with him.
"I know these are all God moments," Mr. Hamm said. "It couldn’t have been anything else other than God. It put me at such a place of peace and ease."
Although the future is unknown, Mr. Hamm’s faith remains strong. "It has always been strong and always been something real to me," he says. "It’s even more real now because I’m living it and I’m seeing it and I’m feeling it on a daily basis."
Thanks to all the prayers and support, Mr. Hamm said he has been able to put all the stress, anxiety, and fear to the side. "There is hope because my life and everything I believe doesn’t end here on earth.
"It doesn’t mean I don’t want to fight and don’t want to stay, because I do. I don’t think I’m done on this earth yet."
Mr. Hamm hasn’t stopped being an educator either. He wants people to reach out if they are going through something like this. He wants to talk to everyone about finding comfort through faith.
"If I can be of help to anyone who is going through this, God please use me."
His advice to those struggling with an uncertain future? Spend time in the Word and God’s promises.
"I don’t know why anyone would ever want to go through anything like this if they didn’t have faith," Mr. Hamm wonders. "My faith has been so valuable during this time. It has made what is potentially not a great situation into something that is bearable."
-- Written by Judson Rempel.