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.

The week that was

week-that-wasThe strange normality of our world continues for us as we live with both the reality of a son who has suffered a major neurological episode and the uncertainty of my melanoma’s effects. It’s been a week of concern and activity on both fronts. Ben will have been in the Mardon Neurological Rehabilitation Centre for a week tomorrow for an anticipated twelve week stay. He has settled in well. It’s Day 37 since his seizure and hospitalisation. His progress is steady although he’s continuing to show a number of signs that indicate the road ahead is a long one; twists and turns we’ve witnessed already show it’ll involve days when we feel we’ve hardly moved at all or even moved backwards. Positively, he’s communicating well (although his voice intonations have a way to go) and we can see more of the normal old Ben – including his sense of humour – coming through. He’s expected to dress himself each day and appear in the dining room for his three main meals. He has a great small flat to himself complete with a TV, a small kitchen and bathroom. French doors open out onto a patio. It’s all part of the National Health Service…quite impressive by anyone’s standards, surely. He has a pretty full timetable posted each week including physio, occupational, speech and language therapies, and is more than impressed with the care that the staff are giving him. He had a five hour home visit yesterday which went well.

Of concern however are occasional but repeated bouts of vomiting and also the continuing shakes. He was on an exercise bike on Thursday while in a rehab session when he felt a seizure coming on as his body started to shudder. Thankfully, the nearby nurses were alert and came running, and what seemed like a growing convulsion was averted. But it plainly indicated to both him and us that his condition is not stable. He had another electroencephalogram (EEG) scan in the hospital during the week which will no doubt be examined along with the expected (and long awaited) results of DNA tests as they start to appear.

He and all of us remain concerned also about his wife Gabriela’s immigration status. It is playing on both their – all of our – Flag-Pins-Great-Britain-Brazilminds. She’s currently here on a six month tourist visa which, if they are to stay, needs to be converted to one which allows her to stay longer and even to work. The current immigration laws mean that unless one’s foreign spouse is from within the EU, the British half of the relationship needs to be earning in excess of £17,000 to bring their spouse into the country. Even then, the application needs to be made from the foreign spouse’s home country and can take up to two or three months to come through. Plainly Ben is in no position to be in employment (with probably another 2-3 months in rehab) and Dabi feels she needs to be with Ben during these vulnerable times. We’re thankful for a recent kind offer of help in high places which may just provide an answer. We pray Father will open unexpected doors in this matter.  In the meantime, dear Dabi lost her grandfather back in Brazil this week. We pray Father’s comfort for her and her family. We’re so grateful for the love that the Clements, Sharps, Smiths, Salters and Dysons have been showing, offering her hospitality and friendship.       

As Ben and I sat chatting last week and were reflecting on what it meant to have lost twelve or more days of memory while he was unconscious in the ICU, he said that he remembered, at one point, he felt himself to be slipping away, dying. I asked him how he felt about it, knowing what he’d written on the blog weeks before, and he simply said, ‘Peaceful’. He then recounted how, on another occasion, the room was totally black and he saw a large angel, bright, standing at the foot of his bed. Some may say it was the results of a drug-induced delirium…maybe, but Catherine had particularly been praying that an angel would be encamped at the foot of his bed. As he and I talked, it led on to a long discussion about death and what the Resurrectionscriptures show us…the promise for the believer in Jesus that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, and that one day, as Christ returns, those who’ve died already ‘in Christ’, their bodies will be resurrected and transformed – the perishable will be raised imperishable, we’ll be clothed similar but vastly different to our current earthly bodies, entirely in line with Jesus’ body after his resurrection – recognisable and yet not; able to appear through locked doors, but able to be touched. Absent is all the nonsense about floating around on clouds playing harps, but clothed in spiritual yet physical bodies ready to live in a new transformed environment, heaven and earth combined, face to face with God and rejoicing as we hear “a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death” or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Revelation 21). We were both encouraged thinking about it.

It’s been a strength for me to be considering these things again this week as I’ve had a few days feeling pretty unwell, leaving Catherine understandably somewhat vulnerable and concerned. A couple of nights of heavy and profuse sweats (last experienced three months ago and often associated with advancing cancer) alongside three days of feeling increasingly ‘feak & weeble’, made us wonder whether I was taking a turn for the worse. However, this weekend I’m feeling much stronger.  It was a good week though to quietly sit and finally write letters to each of our children – letters to be kept safely and given to each of them in the event of my death. It was a precious task I’d delayed doing as I knew it was going to involve both time and some very careful gathering of thought – communicating love, hopes, memories and reflections.     

I face my next CT scan this Friday 6th February. It’s expected to show the tumour inflamed and angry, reacting to the drug. A second scan follows a month later – that’s the one they’ll be looking at closely as it’ll indicate where things are heading. 

Some wonder how we cope. I guess that we’ve learned to simply take each day at a time and not worry about what tomorrow might bring. It’s about knowing that Christ is already there ahead of us and that, for the present moment, Father has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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Comments on: "The week that was" (15)

  1. May Our Lord give you all the strength that is needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brian Ardill said:

    Dear Jeremy & Catherine
    We’re continuing to pray for you, Jeremy – for the CT scan and the result – praying for the Lord’s healing and God’s special peace for you all; for Ben also and his healing and for recovery of all he’s lost in memory and for Gabriella’s successful entry into England and stay here.
    In Christ
    Brian & Bridie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kaye Saunders said:

    Dear Jeremy & Catherine
    We are continuing to uphold you all during this incredibly stressful and testing time. No we have not been where you have been and are, but we do know the comforting presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus. We will also pray for the Lord to make a way that Gabi can stay so she can be with Ben.

    God bless & heaps of love for all of you

    Kaye & Chris

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sarah Pollard said:

    Will continue to pray for you all ……..just to encourage you I was also praying for an angel to be at ben’s bedside day & night & especially prayed for Light to shine in the darkness whilst he was in ICU …..to touch his spirit with comfort during the confusion & darkness…..
    Loads of love to you Jeremy & Cathy , Ben & Gabi …..
    Special big hug to Gabi from loosing your grandpa
    (((( ❤ )))))
    Love Sarah xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loads of love and prayer from NZ you awesome people! David Liz Euan 18 and Finlay 15 Morris. Psalm 91 we live in the shelter of the Most High God

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Laura Arnold said:

    Dont know if any of our emails got to you but just to let you know we and many others at St Mary’s are praying for you ALL.At the Centre we have a file with all the blogs .Bob and I know about ‘one day at a time ‘from our experience of our son Steve’s sudden death .And there is a lot to do ,life must go on and all that, but you drag the pain and uncertainty around all the time and to have this double doze of everything is so terrible .I am particularly praying that God will open doors for Gabriela’s situation …May god sustain all of you with his presence and love .Bob and Laura

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We in the White Cross Mission continue to pray for you Jeremy, Ben and your family. I do hope that Gabriela is granted her stay in our country at this difficult time and if there is anything we can do to help, please blog. God bless you all at this time and we hope that your results are positive Jeremy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Father “…has given us his very great and precious promises…”.We pray on.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ruth, I and the whole church continue to uphold you in our prayers. May Jesus in His risen power strengthen and at times carry the load for you, Catherine, Ben and the family.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You have been and continue to remain in our prayers

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Brenda Lockett said:

    I hope you are feeling better in yourself Jeremy. Prayers for you for Friday and for Ben and his wife that all works out well. Loving wishes to you all.xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Special prayers for Friday that all will go well.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sylvia Huxtable said:

    The joy of the Lord is your strength.
    The Father will be handling all of your problems, He does not need your help.
    Praying for God’s healing power to be upon Jeremy and Ben, and His comforting arms encircling the whole family.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lisa Smith-Paterson said:

    Wondering how the CT scan went today, & keeping you all in my thoughts & prayers from Durban. x

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Bob and Libby Barnes said:

    Dear Jeremy and Catherine

    Our hearts continue to go out to you in prayer for you both, for Ben and for Dabi and the rest of your family. May you continue to know God’s strength and peace in the good days and in the not-so-good days. Praying for God’s miraculous healing power to come upon Jeremy and Ben.

    Much Love
    Libby and Bob

    Liked by 1 person

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