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.

We are sorry, but the first attempt to post this left many people unable to read it because of a glitch. Here it is again. Thanks for the previous comments…they were much appreciated 

25th AnniversaryFor two months now this has been the reality of our lives. So just how does it change your life and how do you make choices? Tomorrow (Tuesday 9th December) is our Silver Wedding Anniversary –  yes, 25 years of marriage. Something to really celebrate. However is this our last? How do you celebrate such a landmark at the same time as being aware you may never celebrate this date together again? We have chosen to meet at a restaurant slightly nearer our flat. I explained the situation to the waitress when I booked the table and she told me I could choose any table and she would make a note in the diary. I have chosen a quiet table in the corner next to the fire so we can chat easily. Jeremy will then come back to our nearby small flat for the night, rather than return to the Vicarage. In the summer, I made a silver dress to wear and Jeremy gave me silver shoes for my birthday.

So what about Christmas? We should have fourteen at our table – our core seven (as we so hope Ben, now quite ill again in Brazil, is returning due to Jeremy’s diagnosis), our daughter-in-law, Jeremy’s brother and his fiancée and both sets of parents. The theme will be silver and gold to reflect both sets of parents marking their golden wedding anniversaries and our silver. We will enjoy the fact that Jeremy won’t be shattered from work in the days leading up to Christmas. We can also attend a party hosted by friends on Christmas Eve. Only once has this been possible in the past when we hosted a party on Christmas Eve 2007 as Jeremy was off work then also. Christmas will be simple, reflective and above all, focus on our saviour’s birth. It will be fun but poignant too.

Then onto much bigger, long term decisions. Where does Lydia go to complete her education, bearing in mind we already live in two homes, one of which we will not have if Jeremy doesn’t survive? What happens if she does A levels where the course is assessed with one exam at the end of the year? If Jeremy were to leave us in June, presumably having been very ill leading up to this, her entire year could be jeopardized.

What for Josh? He had hoped to go to New Zealand for a gap year. Does he really want to risk being that far from his terminally ill Dad? What should he do having completed his A levels? The world is his oyster and yet it feels restricting knowing he might not have his dad much longer in his life.

Throughout we have tried hard not to clutch at straws. However when three emails arrive from three separate sources in twenty four hours, do you consider their suggestions? When they suggest many have been helped by following an alkalizing diet, do you take notice? We have decided to follow it, but not without confusion. Initially looking up a list online, we followed it carefully. It was very restrictive and at first took Jeremy to a more acceptable weight. However this week we have been alarmed at not only his physical state but his mental one too. Do we carry on? We are now following one recipe book and taking the advice only found in there. His diet is more varied, he is eating more food and generally looking much better but are we right to carry on this regime?

What about future work for both of us, let alone where we are to live? Do we sell our flat in Crediton and buy a flat in Honiton where part of our support network is? If Jeremy doesn’t survive, will a flat provide a sufficient base? Can we afford a house with three bedrooms at this stage as it would seem silly to buy a flat to then have to sell it to buy a house using death-in-service payments if that is the course we have to face? This of course has a massive impact on our working lives. Where do I look for work? Can Jeremy continue in his line of work should he respond in some way to the treatment, taking into account the long hours his work requires? Should he look at retiring on grounds of ill health? This would mean loosing the Vicarage which is our family home: so the questions continue.

What we do is wait, pray, think and try to gain a sense of what God may be saying; look at all the realities and possibilities and then think carefully on the verse in Jeremiah which says “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you.” Do we trust that? YES we do. We will just keep walking this path we have been called to walk with our faces firmly set on Jesus knowing God can achieve abundantly more than we can ever expect or imagine. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. This is a tough time especially with the worry of Ben but God has promised to be faithful. Thank you Lord.

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Comments on: "Living with a terminal diagnosis" (6)

  1. Jane Devlin said:

    We hope you were able to enjoy your anniversary dinner together celebrating 25 years of married life. There are very many folk here in West Down that are praying for you both at this difficult time in your lives. We are praying for Ben and hope that he and his wife will soon to able to return home to the family. Your blogs are very inspiring and we are humbled that Jeremy and you are willing to share your thoughts and these painful experiences with us, always reminding us of the love of God and our need to keep our eyes on him. Our Church here will continue to pray for you all and hold you in our hearts. God’s blessing on you and all your family.

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  2. Jo Brooke-Dennison said:

    There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of you and your family. You are in my prayers constantly. I too was following a very restricted diet for crippling arthritis but I had to come off it because I started to look ill and have dizzy spells. Have now included more protein in my diet and am feeling much better. My Love to you all. XX

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  3. Graham & Sharon said:

    We send you our best wishes & congratulations on your silver wedding. We have been following your blog with prayerful interest. You have been an encouragement to us, as we are travelling a similar journey and we too know Cherrybrook and the RDE oncology department well. We pray that today you will know a special sense of the Lord’s nearness. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9 keep coming to us – “my grace is sufficient for you”. May you know that sufficiency today.

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  4. Kaye Saunders said:

    Dear Jeremy and Catherine – Happy 25th Anniversary!!! What a lovely idea of a gold and silver theme to also celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both sets of parents. We hope that you had a lovely family dinner.

    You are dealing with so many “unknowns” at this time and will do for some time to come. We know there is no quick and easy answer to them, but you can trust the Lord for guidance, that will be at the right time, even though it may seem very “last minute”..however, His timing is perfect.

    We love you our dear friends and pray for you and your family.

    God bless & love

    Kaye & Chris

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  5. Dear Catherine,
    Reading your thoughts during this traumatic time for you has been such an inspiration. Although it cannot have been easy for you to explore all the possible implications of Jeremy’s illness, and share so generously with so many friends, I am certain that it in doing so you have already helped many who are faced with similar situations or may be in the future. Death and it’s implications for a family are such taboo subjects that such openness is rare, yet so important. I admire you Catherine, in all your pain and sadness you are doing such a good job, not least by expressing your strong faith and hope in God to bring you all through this, trusting in his love and faithfulness.

    I hope your anniversary was a really loving and tender time which will sustain you through the coming weeks. I love the idea of a gold and silver theme, congratulations to both sets of parents and to you and Jeremy of course. May you all experience very special blessings as you celebrate this Christmas and that Ben and Dabi will be with you too.
    God bless you all,
    With our love,
    Micky and Robin xx

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  6. Thank you for sharing this with us. It helps to know how to pray for you both and your family. I am praying that this will be a very special Christmas for you all to have together. It is so important to cherish each other while you have each other on earth, but also wonderful to know that this isn’t the end. Two years ago I lost my Dad and Christmas has been difficult without him. However this year the Lord has really challenged me to be “joyful and triumphant” as we celebrate the birth of One who came to banish the power of death for us! May you know that deep joy that only He can give this Christmas. Much love, Grace (Applebee)

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