You’ll understand that 5 years is significant. Even if you don’t know my story, so many of us have either close family members or good friends whose lives have been affected by cancer that you’ll know the impact of 5 years.
This time of year has been an emotional rollercoaster of reminders, markers if you like, of the events of 2010. 17th March marks 5 years since hearing the words “You have bowel cancer” for the first time. And as such it feels like a date to celebrate, to remember, to take notice of.
On the other hand, such a lot of water has flowed under the bridge in 5 years that it seems unnecessary to go all the way back and recount those days. I’m aware too of those for whom being diagnosed has been a much more permanent experience, and much, much more recent.
So, here are 5 things I’m thankful for from the last 5 years!
- Free prescriptions. Well, probably more like the grand old dame that is the NHS. I have nothing but praise for the way I have experienced the care and concern of the NHS. I know that this is not true for everyone and there have been occasions when I’ve not been happy with a few of my experiences, but the vast majority of the care offered to me has been absolutely spot on.
- Not only did the many prayers and good wishes at the time make a genuine and tangible difference to my overall well-being but also my own interaction with prayer has changed dramatically in the last 5 years. I have to say that in the middle of it all I couldn’t pray worship or read my Bible without being in floods of tears! But as time passed I began to find a voice I’d not known before in prayer. Before, I’d done most of my praying in group situations, there never seemed to be time to pray on my own. After and since then, I began to find myself drawn into praying on my own and have begun to recognise when God talks back! Don’t get me wrong, my prayer life is far from perfect and I still don’t do it as regularly as I’d like to. But, I’ve enjoyed the change this has made to the way I relate to God.
- Journey of faith. Somewhat unsurprisingly along with the change in prayer has come a ‘quickening’ in my faith in God. I have learned more about connecting up my head and my heart; more about who G-d is; more about what it really means to say that I follow Jesus. Again, it’s not that I’ve ‘arrived’ with any of it! But the whole of life is a journey, and one I’m learning about all the time.
- New beginnings. In the last three years I have begun something new four times – two new jobs, two new churches (only one of these has started from scratch, the other we attended as new members). God has been right there with me at each new beginning, and in the ending that preceded it.
- Family and friends. I am someone who loves to be around people, I enjoy meeting new people; I need the energy I get from the contact with others. I am the most grateful of all for those relationships that have not only sustained me but also sharpened me, helping me understand myself and make sense of my faith.
Finally, the diagnosis and subsequent treatment that happened in 2010 was bad enough for me but I cannot begin to imagine how it would have felt to be in the other side of it – for those who I love and who love me! Husband Jon, Mum and Dad, Mum-In-Law, my sister Kate and best friend Rachel as well as the many others who supported me whilst going through this hell alongside me, I will always be amazed by you and truly, truly thankful for you.