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.

This or That?

We’ve entered a strange land over the last few days. It’s a territory that perhaps some will find hard to understand.

In just over twenty four hours, it’ll be two weeks since I had my first treatment with Ipilimumab. Thankfully, thus far, there have been no side effects whatsoever, and I’m due my second session in just over a week. It’s been great spending time with one or two friends who’ve come in to see me, including Chris, an old school friend, visiting the UK from New Zealand. I’ve been avoiding both being among groups of people and a lot of raw foods because of my neutropenic state, and I’m still at a stage where there could be problems with my organs playing up. As I’ve been reading more and more of the success stories of Ipilimumab online, I’m increasingly conscious what a revolutionary drug it is and how it’s changed the landscape within the treatment of metastatic melanoma. The success rate is still only a sobering 20% – the stories of the other 80% aren’t so obvious on Google – but there are many tales of how people who’d been given a melanoma death sentence have seen tumours shrink or disappear; there are others who’ve gone on to live with their melanoma as something akin to a chronic, but manageable condition.

All these anecdotes, combined with the fact that I’m feeling so well, have left us in a strange place, almost a place of confusion. It was made so clear by various health professionals early on that this cancer was one from which there was no escape, no cure. And we’ve known God’s peace with that and we’ve gone a long way down that road with plans that we’ve set in place for Catherine and the children.

Maybe it’s just that we’re both control freaks who like to know what’s going on, but what do we plan for? I’m honestly just so peaceful with both living or dying…but is it the relatively quick exit that melanoma often delivers, or is it a new world of possibilities introduced by Ipi? And which expectation do we build today on, this week on? Perhaps it’s no more or no less than what we can ever plan for even in the best of times?

This or That 3

Then there’s the whole question of what Father God might do…either directly, through Ipi, through my diet, or a combination of all three. Some years ago, a friend of mine wrote a book entitled ‘My Reasonable Expectations’ after he nearly lost his small son in a domestic accident. As a committed Christian, he raised and wrestled with real questions about what we could expect from God. Over the years, Catherine and I have seen God do some amazing things – healing people, changing lives sometimes even in dramatic ways, wonderful and amazing answers to prayer etc. But we’ve also seen many people, for example, who’ve been ill and for whom we’ve prayed, who have not recovered and then died. Now in our circumstance, what should we expect, what should we ask for? It’s a question that has led some people to say to me, ‘Jeremy, you need to decide what you want’. But what say I’m just content to say, ‘Father, your will be done’ ? Sure, I’ll seek for God to heal me – I value my life and I love my family, friends and those around me who I serve and live among. But as someone who has a wonderful and ever-good master named Jesus Christ, I won’t push for it. It seems to me that leaving my situation ultimately in Jesus’ hands is the place of greatest peace. Some people suffer from what I’ve come to refer to as an ‘over-realised eschatology’ – an unfounded expectation that God will do far more NOW than he’s actually promised to do this side of Jesus’ return one day. Sometimes that involves an over-expectation of healing, as if that’s the only way God shows his love and where we can see the evidence of God’s presence and power in a situation where there’s illness.

But what I’m witnessing in myself is the amazing presence and power of God in the middle of what may just be my dying. And it seems that Father is touching and reaching people through this in a way that is both amazing and humbling me. And so I’ll happily go and receive prayer for healing, happily take my four doses of Ipi, but I’ll contentedly pray in faith, with trust and confidence, ‘Father, your will be done…and through my living or my dying, glorify your name’.

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Comments on: "This or That?" (19)

  1. Dave and Sue Miller said:

    Jeremy
    Reading your blog.
    Our thoughts are with you.
    Dave Miller

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    • Thanks Dave & Sue. Hope the move has gone smoothly, that you’re settling in well, and enjoying being closer to the family. J

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  2. Jeremy sit under a fig tree and rest in God’s presence

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  3. Jeremy, that is the most amazing blog, thank you so much. Our house group, which consists of folk at different stages of their Christian journey, have been wrestling with the question of why some are healed and others not and your response is the most helpful I have ever heard. I will share it with the group when we meet.
    We still pray constantly that ipi will produce results beyond expectations because in our hearts that it what we wish for, as children we are asking our loving Father. However, your latest thoughts really show us the deep peace that trusting God alone can and does bring. May he bless you and your dear family so richly as you honour him.
    With our love, Micky and Robin x

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  4. Michael and Marion Andrews said:

    Thank you for your blogs. It is inspirational to be sharing the journey of all of you, regardless of the outcome. Love M&M xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jEREMY, It is very good of you and very educative for us that you are sharing your journey, where ever it may be taking you, with us so far as thisi is possible. As you have so often” said to us “May the peeaceif the Lord….remain with you always” Gerard Noel.

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  6. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your story. May God continue to strengthen and uphold you on your journey where ever it takes you.

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  7. Well said Jeremy. Sometimes we are disappointed with God because we have unrealistic expectations of what he will do and when that doesn’t happen we feel let down but it’s only because we hoped for something God never promised, eternal life on this earth. Our perspective should be that this life is a temporary one lived out in anticipation of the one to come.

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  8. Bridget Faithfull said:

    Jeremy – another ministering post – your 2 fish must be huge tuna and your 5 loaves baked from whole sacks of flour! I think I bounce around on my faith – sometimes up in the air and out of touch and sometimes landing down solidly. One of the consistently solid bits is the peace I feel at funerals – particularly of those with a strong Christian faith. It is the deep, down just knowing, that is so peaceful but which I am not good at putting into words. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Claire Burgess said:

    Fighting the tears as I read this (yet again), Jeremy. I think you’re such an example to us all – and I genuinely think through your ongoing testimony, that peace you describe has and will spread to others. Your confidence in God and His will is beautifully contagious. You’re a legend. Thank you :-). xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Caroline Cook said:

    Hi Jeremy.

    Thanks for your thoughts and opening your heart to us all. With you in prayer brother that indeed the Heavenly Fathers will is done in and through your life and that of your lovely family, and that – as you so eloquently say – in life or death you will glorify God. May that be every believers prayer. Love to Catherine.

    Caroline x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ruth Smith said:

    Jeremy, you are probably aware but you are preaching the most powerful and important sermon of your life – in instalments –
    thank you and our prayers and thoughts are constantly with you. Ruth

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Stephen has been encouraging us to think about heaven now, not just in the future. Jeremy, continue your walk, allowing Gods will to be done, encouraging us all to draw closer to Jesus and be encouraged to seek heaven in all that we do now. God bless you and your wonderful family.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. steve blake said:

    Jeremy
    I think I am not alone in being both amazed and blessed by the way you are handling this with emotional and theological integrity. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with you and Catharine. I think you mentioned a ‘severe mercy’ on an earlier blog entry…I wondered where you’d read the book with that title by, I think, Sheldon vanauken? It deals with similar issues..
    Steve & Clare x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Steve, thanks got your kind words. Yes, Sheldon Vanauken’s book is one I know. I’ve often found the words of the title so apt when thinking about the way God works in various circumstances.

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  14. Tracey Wallis said:

    Amen! Again you are such an inspiration to many xx Thankyou for you loyalty and love and witness xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Brenda Lockett said:

    Just read your latest blog Jeremy we have been in Cornwall closing down our caravan for the winter. The odds were heavily stacked against me 31 years ago to beat ALL but here I am! If an old reprobate like me can make it anyone can! Whatever God’s plan is thank you for sharing with us you and your family. I am glad that this new drug is being easy on you long may it last.

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