The Journey Home: From recovery to fundraising
How a musical journey is helping a Guy’s patient recover from a serious and rare operation
Lee Michael Walton has always been passionate about music and singing. As a young boy attending chapel in his hometown of Pontardawe in Wales, he loved the sound of the magnificent organ and learned to play from the age of seven, later becoming a professional musician.
As a singer, when Lee was diagnosed with a tumour that left him unable to speak for weeks, it was devastating for him. The tumour had grown in his palate and was now pressing behind his eye. Its rare location meant surgeons at Guy’s took 21 hours to remove all the cancerous tissue.
They took bone, skin and a vein from his leg to rebuild the roof of his mouth and Lee was left with a feeding tube, breathing tube, pain, swelling and on crutches – but he was alive.
‘When I first woke up in Guy’s Hospital I saw two faces,’ Lee recalls. ‘One was the speech therapist and one was the dietician. They simply said: “We’re going to take good care of you”. You can’t underestimate how profoundly positive hearing someone say that to me was.’
Determination to recover
Lee couldn’t speak for more than a month and had to write everything down. But doctors were impressed with his determination to recover and to get singing again. It was another 18 months until Lee’s teeth were replaced and he now suffers from frequent sinus infections.
But Lee is now free of cancer. He says he’s grateful for the expertise of the team at Guy’s, especially his surgeon Mr Ricard Simo who Lee still sees for check-ups.
‘It was a horrendous experience to go through but the care I received was amazing, and the nursing so sensitive,’ he says.
Although Lee recovered physically, the mental toll of his experience was extensive and four years ago he had a breakdown. He has since rebuilt his life – thanks in part to music. He is currently creating an album of music called ‘The Journey Home’ and once released, he plans to give 10% of what he receives to Guy’s and St Thomas’.
‘The album is a celebration of the human spirit, about learning through life,’ Lee says. ‘I hope people will enjoy it and gain strength from it too’.
You can read more about Lee’s incredible journey and how you can support the release of his album. There are many different ways you can organise your own fundraising to support your hospital, just like Lee has.