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.

hospAs I was driving home to our flat on Thursday evening, having said goodbye to Jeremy at the pub in Exeter (because my parents were going to drop him at the Vicarage on their way home) and knowing my son lay sedated, tubed and very ill in ICU, this thought crossed my mind, “Can it get any worse?” Then as quickly as it came it was dismissed. Of course it can! Have I got a relative either being held hostage by ISIS or one who has left this country to either fight for or against them? Am I a Christian or another ethnic group being persecuted by ISIS? Am I imprisoned for my beliefs or is my husband/son being imprisoned for theirs? A resounding “no”.

People say, “I don’t know how you cope, Catherine.” It is by keeping everything in perspective that pathwe can walk the difficult path chosen for us. I have (at the moment) a warm, dry and comfortable home. Yes, my husband has a terminal illness but he loves me and we are still sharing life together. Whatever happens, because of Jesus’ death and sacrifice, I know where he will ultimately be and for the same reason, I will be there too one day. Not because of anything I have done but because of Jesus’ grace and mercy. If Jeremy goes to be with Father, I will be ok. Father will look after me and most importantly, have a ministry for me. I have wanted to foster for many years; Jeremy feels we have done our bit raising our five. This is one of the plans I have if I am on my own. We have chosen a house carefully in order for this to be a possibility; I want our new home to bless many.

globeMy son is seriously sick, yes. We do not know what is wrong, yes. He is being wonderfully looked after in a facility we are just so blessed to have on our doorstep. God knows what is going on. Could it be the result of many praying and fasting last Monday that meant he had another two seizures on Thursday? It could be for a positive reason but nobody knows. What I do know, most assuredly, is that God does and is in control.

As I think back on the last (almost) six months, I know we have been through the ringer. I am tired and have not slept well in months; every time I visit Ben I am reminded of the loss and pain his situation brings. I have shed many tears in recent times but the best news is that God has not changed. In all of this pain and uncertainty, God has not changed. He is who he has always been. He has always been in control, he still is. He knows what the future holds and always has done. He still loves me with an everlasting (that means for ever!) love and always will. He has a unique plan for my life, a role for me to play and fufill and nothing, not even death or sickness, can stop that. Praise you Father, thank you so much.

For the past eight years Jeremy and I have been asking big questions about life. Did you know that his terminal diagnosis has brought us so much blessing? We are both excited and scared in equal measure. Sometimes one of these tips the balance. However, I believe God wants to use our situation to overwhelmingly bless and encourage us. We have for such a long time tried to marry up a working pattern where one works weekdays and terms and the other weekends and holidays. I wind down at the end of term for both Christmas and Easter – not so for Jeremy. Our new life will allow much more flexibility for us within the hours and requirements of my job. We will have evenings; I can be home by 4pm and Jeremy won’t be going out to some meeting or function. That is all exciting.

Can we make our budget stretch? We have never paid water rates or council tax at this level before. Our income isshoe shop reducing significantly. These are all scary. BUT… God has shown us so many signs to encourage us. What are the chances of a conversation with the mother of a child in my class leading to a Saturday job in my favourite shoe shop, that also gives holiday opportunities too? Slim, I would have thought; six days later I had been offered such a job. God’s goodness most definitely. The house was found almost by chance as the criteria we were looking for wasn’t how this house was advertised. Again God moves and we sold our flat in five days. We discovered our mortgage, taken out three years ago, is portable; we had no idea. We are trusting God that he will provide the finance and bring it from all its different sources together on the correct day so we can complete the transaction. This is taking a lot of faith but I am totally trusting that God will deliver on this one when his timing is right. We also are waiting to hear if my contract, that currently runs out in July, is going to be extended. If not we have to trust for a new job for me.

deep pitSo can it get any worse than this? The bottom of the pit is a long way off yet and even if we did get down there, right to the bottom, there is no pit so deep that God’s love and presence is not already there. As the Psalmist says, there is nowhere we can go that is far from him. We have just so much to be thankful for. God has so blessed us these past few months. We have had so many generous offers of money, food, prayer and love. We realise we have fantastic friends the world over and nothing, not anything, can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ and that even in the seemingly hardest times, when we can not walk anymore, God carries us. See Footprints in the Sand.

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Comments on: "It doesn’t get any worse than this" (15)

  1. alison jackson said:

    Dear Catherine, you are so brave. An example to us all. Your strength and resilience and generosity of spirit is so inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Catherine. You are very inspirational to all of us. And am sure to all your family and friends. I have spoken to my friend Mary Pike, a Rockbeare resident and your Church. Last year my friends daughter returned from her home near Panama very ill. Rushed to Southmead ICU. Seizures, put into coma, and her parents were told to fear the worse. Her boyfriend spoke to the infectious disease people. And they went down a different route. The result was she had inhaled mouse poo. This had become like dust, she swept it up in their house and this made her unwell. Portion Down solved it and she got the correct anti biotics. She has recovered although not A1 but ok. This may not be the same at all for your Ben but felt I should let you know her story. What is happening to Ben has similarities to Laura. If you want to chat please get in touch.
    My best wishes to you all. Pat Cusa. Church Warden at Clyst St Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can see Catherine, that you are a mother of MANY. The Lord bless and nurture you from within, that you would do so to and for many, in Him. OUR continued prayers for you, Jeremy, Ben and the entire Family.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Michael Hewat said:

    Dear Catherine and Jeremy
    What an inspiration and encouragement you both are. This is indeed the perspective we should all have, but it’s much more powerful coming from you who are, as it were, finding the treasures of darkness.
    I must admit my heart sank when I saw the title of your new post, but by the end of it I was praying “Lord, I hope that in a similar situation this is exactly how I, and all who call on your name, would respond.” Your words ring so true.
    We will continue to persevere in prayer, no matter what.
    With our love to you all
    Kimberley and Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Heather Wheeler said:

    Your and Jeremy’s blogs are such an inspiration Catherine , you are all in my heart and prayers daily. None of us can imagine this painful journey …. but God. Sending love and daily prayer to you all xxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. annika phillips said:

    Hiya Jeremy and Catherine,

    Just wanted you both to know we are following things with you. I am sorry to hear your son continues to be unwell, how you all cope, I don’t really know. That is some extra ordinary strength. Sending our love and thoughts.

    Mr & Mrs Phillips.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yvonne Howarth said:

    How deep the Fathers love comes to mind,as I finished reading this Catherine. Half way through I was singing another chorus: with the lines, he owns the rivers and the rocks, etc he owns us and the sun and stars that shine.
    I’m sure your positive words encourage many, your steadfast love never ceases for those close to you and your Heavenly Father. Blessings will eventually come your way I’m sure, but until then be assured of love, prayers and thoughts.
    Thank you for your words and all the words from your family, may our Heavenly Father bless you all as always.
    Just a phone call away if there is anything at all that I can do.
    Much love. Xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Caroline Colin said:

    To be reminded of ‘how deep the Father’s love is for us’, to be encouraged that ‘we never walk alone’ to be brought into relationship with you has been our gift from Father. ‘What can we do for you’ I ask? Pray – and so I do. Thank you for sharing yourselves so very openly with all of us across the world. The Father, Son and Spirit are glorified,praised, worshipped and adored – we are all blessed. Cas

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Gina Johnston said:

    Praise God, for He is able to do ALL things – and he will. We never doubt that, when the time is right He WILL do it. God Bless you and your family. Praying for you all 💛💛💛

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lisa Smith-Paterson said:

    wow Catherine you are an amazing woman, I wish I had got to meet you when I was in the UK for Ashleys (my niece) wedding. Thoughts & prayers are with you all. Lisa in Durban SA

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bless you, Catherine. “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith”.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Shirley Enoch said:

    I don’t know you, i only know of you through David Beniston, but I have been following the blog and have been so moved by it. This last post put me in mind of the words of the song ‘There is a hope’ by Stuart Townend:

    “There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
    A consolation strong against despair,
    That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit
    I find my Saviour there!
    Through present sufferings, future’s fear,
    He whispers ‘Courage’ in my ear,
    For I am safe in everlasting arms
    And they will lead me home.”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Rosie King said:

    Absolutely soul inspiring and powerful faith shown by you Catherine . Prayers and fasting going your way for healing for your dear husband and son . Blessings Rosie and Ben

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Chris Saunders said:

    May God bless you both and the wider family. We will continue to pray and fast for you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Chris Bennett said:

    Catherine – I’ve got soggy eyes after reading that. What a faithful God we serve. Bless you x

    Liked by 1 person

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