Last Autumn, after receiving the shocking news of my diagnosis with cancer and the proposed radical treatment my first words were, “my life will never be the same again.” Obviously, at that point, I was thinking of the horrible physical effects of the treatment as well as the inevitable fear that the C-word brings. I went into a kind of bereavement experience as I anticipated what lay ahead.
Now, 6 months later, and post-treatment, those words seem spot on. The treatment has been effective in ridding me of the cancer, but I am having to gradually come to terms with the fact that some of the physical side-effects will never resolve and that I will always live to some degree under the uncertainty of having had cancer and whether it will return.
However, I have also discovered that these words about never being the same again are also true in other much more positive ways. For instance, I can certainly say along with almost every other cancer survivor that you value life in a whole new way.
But beyond that I have also been changed as a person. I have become aware of being much more patient, much more grateful, much more contented. This tallies with Scripture. In Hebrews the writer talks about enduring hardship as discipline from a loving heavenly Father – Hebrews 12:7-11. The cancer has had a chastening effect on me – not in a negative way, but in an incredibly positive way.
I recall one of the nurses, on learning that I was a Church Minister, assumed that the cancer must have rocked my faith. I had to gently correct her and say that this wasn’t the case at all. One of the reasons I am a Christian is because it is the only thing that in any way makes sense of suffering and provides the potential to redeem the most awful of experiences.
My current experience of cancer, although it has been the worst time of my life, has also been a time of personal change and transformation. My life will never be the same again, for which I give thanks and praise to the Lord.
Mark Wickenden, Minister