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Step of Faith

Having had cancer has made me re-evaluate how I am living my life. For a while now I have been praying and asking God how He wants me to spend my time and earn my money. I have already been doing increasingly more for my local church, mostly behind the scenes, but up-front too.

I am trying to write a book about my experiences of living life with faith and cancer in order to help others and their families who find themselves in a similar position. However, finding the space and time to do this is extremely difficult.

I have been a primary school teacher for 15 years, 14 of which I have spent at the same school. It has been a good season of my life. I have learnt a lot, as well as taught a lot! But the time does come when it is time to move on.

So I had been praying and asking God if this was His plan for my life, that he should open a door for me to leave. Past experiences in life (in fact my last big step of faith which involved moving 1/2 way around the world) have taught me not to …

Not for the Faint-hearted

On Friday I was back in hospital for my tenth out-patient maintenance treatment. This cycle of treatments sees me receiving just one of the drugs (Retuximab) that was part of my initial chemotherapy cocktail when the cancer was being targeted. As my type of cancer can't be cured medically at present, the doctors fully expect it to return. Having this maintenance treatment every 2 months is supposed to push back the date of its return. Every treatment means it gets pushed back further and further.

I of course still pray that God will intervene and heal me completely. No returns, no come-backs! God can do it, but I'm happy to submit to His plans for me - even if it includes living with cancer.

It was only when I sat down in the treatment chair that I suddenly remembered that I had forgotten to drink lots of water in the hours leading up to my treatment. Oh no! Drinking lots of water has, in the past, helped to enlarge my veins a bit and as a result helped with the cannula going…

Balancing Act

Adjusting to living post-cancer can be a challenge in and of itself. I have found I need to find a new 'normal'. I am finding this stage of recovery a bit like walking a tight rope, a balancing act where I am constantly balancing my 'old' normal with the 'new' normal. Where I can forget all about cancer one minute and then next I will be navigating thoughts of fear and doubt.

Now that I have been in remission for over a year, cancer is  no longer all-consuming and I am freely able to think about other things.  This is fueled by the ability to do the things I used to do too - go for walks, play guitar, go back to work, do the shopping, look after the kids, etc.

In fact days and even weeks can go by where I do not think about cancer at all. This in itself brings interesting challenges because I have had cancer (and it could come back!) so I need to be aware of this. Life is no longer how it used to be. I am having to adjust to living in a new 'normal'.


The Aftermath

It has now been just over a year since I was told my cancer is in remission. However my family and I are still healing. There is an emotional and psychological impact to a trauma, such as dealing with a family member's battle with cancer, that continues to persist even when the trauma itself is apparently over.

The photo above was taken in the city of New Orleans several months after the devastating hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. It is a fantastic visual metaphor of what I am wanting to say in this post - it takes a long time to deal with the debris of a catastrophic event, even when the event itself ended some time ago.

Being Optimistic and Realistic A few months ago now my wife and I reached a point where my realism crashed into her optimism.

It was painful and tearful.

Since my remission she had been clinging on to her belief that God had healed me totally and completely. I fully believe that if God wants to do this, he can and he will (and maybe already has), but I am in t…

Telling my Story of Faith and Cancer

At the start of October I was invited to Rochdale by Branches Christian Fellowship.

On the Saturday night I had the privilege of  singing and telling my story about Faith and Cancer and all that God has done and taught me through my experiences. This was at an outreach event, so it was great to see some of the people from the community who came along to that return on the Sunday morning to hear me speak again.

Sunday morning I had been invited to preach. I spoke on 'Embracing Hardship' and that it it through the trial that we gain the victory. Again, people were touched and I praise God that He is able to use me and my story to speak and to help others.

Thanks for having me. I had a great time!

I believe God has asked me to write a book about my journey through cancer and to explain all the things He taught me. This book is still in it's early stages of research and development, but I am still more than happy to come and speak or sing (or both) even without the book. If y…

One Year of Remission!

Whew! I'm only 5 days late - good!

Where has the time gone?

I have't blogged in four months. Life has picked up pace dramatically. I am back to juggling teaching, family and church as well as fitting in some external ministry along the way (watch out for future blogs about this). So its not surprising really that I almost missed my first year anniversary of being declared 'in remission'.

It was exactly one year ago on 1st November when my consultant told me that there were no more cancer cells in my body. Praise God!

Recovery has been an interesting journey too. I certainly didn't think it would be like this. I thought the doctors would say 'everything's OK' than I'd take a few weeks, maybe a month to get back on my feet and then life would return to normal and we would carry on from there.

My physical recovery has taken a long time. I think only now am I reaching the stage I was at physically before being ill. My stamina in particular has taken a …

The Illusion of Control

A couple of days ago I was researching non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (cancer) online on the Lymphoma Association UK website. I read things I already knew such as  - the type of lymphoma I have can not be cured; it will come back again and it will be treated again; people with this type of lymphoma are very likely to live for many years (although supposed to be reassuring this statement did not fill me with much joy! I want to live a good, long life!).

Since being told I was in remission and the chemotherapy coming to an end after six cycles, life has begun to return to normal. I feel well - no longer nauseous or weak or terribly fatigued. No longer feeling out of my depth and completely out of control. No longer blogging about the most recent setback or hospitalisation. I have started to do the things I did before I was diagnosed. I have now returned to work full time. Ministry opportunities are opening up and I am travelling around the UK about once a month to either sing or to speak (…