Jeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they taJeremy…husband of Catherine, father of Ben, Simeon, Tom, Joshua & Lydia. Up until the end of April 2015, he was pastor/vicar of a group of churches on the edge of Exeter in Devon, UK. In early October 2014, aged 48, he was diagnosed with advanced cancer, a stage four malignant melanoma presenting as a tumour on his lungs. The usual life expectancy is 8-12 months. Then, in late December 2014, 23 year old Ben suffered a seizure. After prolonged medical care for what was most likely to have been a viral infection affecting his brain, Ben died in April 2015. Jeremy has up until recently seemed to have responded well to pioneering immunotherapy treatments that can extend life, but from September 2016 is now facing the fresh development of brain tumours and potentially now just months to live. On January 27th 2017 Jeremy took his last breath and went to be with his Lord and Saviour. The family share their thoughts, feelings and reflections as they take this painful and unexpected journey.

A month on…from Catherine

Hi, this is Catherine and I thought it would be good to share something of my journey in this situation we face as a family. Today it is a month since my world veered alarmingly into a new direction. I got up as usual, went to work as usual. At 10.30 it is break time at my school. I had my usual cup of coffee, chatted to staff and by 10.45 we were back in the classroom busily getting on with guided groups. I was due at a meeting at 11 but was delayed. My phone rang at 11.05 which was unusual. I had given Jeremy instructions to ring at lunch time but now my phone was ringing an hour before the agreed time. I had mentally traced his movements for the day. I had not seen him since the previous evening where he had seemed very unwell with a virus. A Brazillian bug we thought. I went to reject the call and was surprised to see “Jeremy” on the callers ID. I pushed the button to put him off. Something nagged. I asked the teacher I work with if I could call him back. Anxiously I found a quieter place and rang to return his call. Then the news I had been dreading, “It’s not good” he said. “It is cancer. Here is Sandra.”

I felt in freefall. A mild panic set in as I tried desperately to get my head round this and listen to what I was being told. Crumpling is the only way to describe those minutes. Having explained to those that needed to know, I was sent away from school. I was all alone. I walked the 3 minutes home to our flat. Nothing seemed real, all was in suspension, waiting…for what? What should I do? I rang my parents or tried to between the sobs. I knew I had to get the youngest two home and somehow tell the three of our children who live away from home.

I didn’t trust myself to drive so I walked up the High Street to their school. “My husband has cancer”, was all I could think. The world seemed in suspension around me. I got to the reception desk somehow and then just broke down. I managed to convey ‘I must talk to my children’, trying to explain why. I knew they would guess when they saw me. Their crumpled faces were haunting my brain. Then they came through the glass door. I could see they knew before they even reached me. If only I could change the words; if only this was someone else’s news. Lydia and I sobbed, Josh although upset decided he would finish his lesson.

Lydia and I began the walk home. I do not remember that journey. We kind of floated. I could not get my head to believe what my ears had been told. It’s CANCER! Is all I could hear. We got home and soon after Josh did too. He hadn’t been able to stay. I then messaged the other three boys. Tom having just started at Cardiff University, Simeon having just started a new job after a very difficult period and Ben in Brazil in a totally different time zone. “Please contact me asap when you have more than 5 mins and are somewhere private.” Tom got back to me first, then Ben then later Simeon. Devastation ruled.

Jeremy, I was told, would be brought back to the flat after blood tests and X-ray. He returned about 2 hours after getting that fateful phone call. He looked awful. “We won’t make it to Christmas”, I thought. He explained to me what he knew. It could be lymphoma or melanoma. Neither was good, the latter worse. It was secondary, not sure where the primary was located. More tests would tell us what it was, we would get a call tomorrow.

I went to school as usual on Thursday. The children didn’t. It was Book Day so required a costume. I wore a princess dress I had made the previous weekend; before the news. Yes, it had become that, with events. Some things were before, some after but whatever way it was looked at, a new existence started on October 8th 2014. One little girl repeatedly told me I looked lovely and that we had the same dress. Throughout the day I felt the comfort of the children. A little hand, a smile and a laugh. Jesus loved the little children and Father used the very same to encourage me. Lunch time at the flat confirmed it was melanoma – I already knew. It felt claustrophobic. The same story repeated endlessly to different people on the phone, no lessening of it, no change, just repeat, repeat.

It was necessary to miss school the next day due to Jeremy’s need to see his GP. The GP said he was sorry and it was time to contact the Hospice nurse. That was a very weepy day. Since the diagnosis I have struggled to eat; that day the dry feeling in my mouth was almost unbearable. Much has happened in this last month. Many decisions have needed to be made. Living in a vicarage poses certain issues not faced by others. Living in two homes poses yet another set of issues. However I have been so aware of God’s peace surrounding me. Friendships have been fast forwarded and my potential future as a widow doesn’t feel scary. I shed tears, laugh, be a mum, a wife and try to hold onto my job which I love. The future is not clear but I walk hand in hand with Father God who sustains me and gives me hope.

 

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Comments on: "A month on…from Catherine" (16)

  1. Beautiful words Catherine – it brought a fresh tear to my eye. Jx

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  2. Such honesty and trust can only come from someone very close to our Heavenly Father. Catherine, your words brought tears to my eyes also, nobody should be going through what you are going through, but as you are aware we are not exempt from pain and suffering, why not us I often hear. What I would love to know, is how do non Christians get by without a faith and a knowledge that we will see our loved ones again. Much love to you all, with continued prayer for each and every one of you. xxxxxx

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    • Irene Cade said:

      Yvonne,
      I don’t know you but you have written my sentiments exactly – beautifully expressed.
      God Bless
      Irene

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  3. Caroline Cook said:

    Hi Catherine. My heart goes out to you, Jeremy and all the family. May you all continue to know the comfort of Father Gods presence with you, every moment of the day. Caroline Cook x

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  4. Cath Whitehead said:

    Thank you for drawing me into your world, Catherine, love, Cath

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  5. Thank you Catherine for your brave words.

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  6. Sandra Parker said:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you Catherine.

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  7. Catherine you do not know me very well and I wish I was not getting to know you this way. I am no words smith believe me so I will keep this short and sweet if there is anyway I can help in anyway I am here

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  8. Brenda Lockett said:

    Catherine my heart breaks for you my prayers soar to God for you and your children x

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  9. Helen Bamber said:

    Dear Catherine, your words convey the rawness and pain of the last month and give us the privilege of journeying with you, albeit at a distance. Tears and grief are felt, but mostly deep love and desire to support you, Jeremy and the family. May the love of God enfold you and continue to grant you peace. Shalom, Helen

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  10. Jackie O'Malley said:

    Dear Catherine, I cannot imagine the month you have had as a family, I see in you and Jeremy an amazing strength, love and peace that transcends understanding. As you share this very painful journey our hearts are with you and we pray our Father fills you minute by minute with His deep,deep peace and love. Your courage to share this journey is incredible, it is a privilege to be walking with you. Love Jackie & Mike xxx

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  11. Tracey Wallis said:

    Catherine, I really don’t know what to say. You guys are such a huge blessing to everyone you come in contact with, even during this awful time. May Gods blessings be upon you every minute of every day all your lives xxx

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  12. Steven Kenyon said:

    Dear Catherine, Thank youso much for your honesty and being willing to open up in a way that will bless and inspire others. My dad passed away from cancer aged 49. I was so amazed by the peace God gave us all. My dad told us Jesus was in the room with him before he died. I am amazed also at how my mum has found the strength she has needed. I am praying that God will bring you peace and the knowledge that he is close by your side whatever may happen. Love Steven.

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  13. Val Parkinson said:

    My Dear Catherine, beautifully written my heart goes out to you all, Trust in your Heavenly Father for He knows best, you don’t need me to tell you that as you already know. Praying for you everyday. Loads of love God Bless xx

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  14. Such brave words Catherine – the Lord will continue to give you strength through these worrying times – thoughts and prayers with you.

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  15. Frank & Jean Maloney said:

    Dear Catherine. Your words have moved us. The eternal God is your refuge and his everlasting arms support you.

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