I put on my padawan slippers, don my Jedi cape, and am led through a series of sterile rooms to an entirely white room. It houses only a table and a robot. I lie down on the table, and my face mask is fitted. I prepare myself for what is to come – but no I have not slipped through a crack in our space–time continuum to a galaxy far far away. This is not virtual Jedi training in the Star Wars universe, but the latest (and hopefully last) round of treatment for my cancer. It is called a cyberknife, and does not flash and buzz like a light sabre. In fact it whirs around me with a high pitched whine as it delivers hundreds of beamlets of radiotherapy which converge on the nasty little lesion on my spine.
While I may not have entered the Star Wars world, I do have a new hope. Having been told in July there was no chance of cure, and tried to wrap my mind round the meaning of that, my world was turned upside down again in October when the top cancer guy for my type of cancer at the Royal Marsden in London told me that because my cancer had only spread to one solitary site on my spine, there was still a possibility of cure. This became even more likely after a further scan in October remarkably showed not only no further spread, but no active cancer in my body anywhere! This didn’t mean the nasty on my spine had gone, but it had stopped growing.
Now the current treatment aims to eradicate this last piece of cancer from my body and then if future scans remain clear that will be that. So I have a new hope. Having been without hope for a few months to have that hope renewed has been amazing. I know there are no guarantees, but that’s not the point, I have hope again, and it is incredible. And I can see the Lord’s hand so clearly in it all – the encouragement to get a second opinion, being able to see the top guy, the new technology and NHS funding just becoming available in time to have it.
The Lord has given hope where hope seemed to be fading. The Force (i.e. the healing power of Christ) is with me and just like the original Star Wars movie I now have a new hope!
Mark Wickenden, Minister