The Reverend Sharon Grenham-Toze
A few months ago the results of a routine medical test I had undergone came back as inconclusive, and I was told I would need to have another. Whilst my rational mind knew that were all kinds of reasons why a test might not have worked first time round, still the nagging voice in the back of my head tapped into all my fears – was this cancer? Thankfully it wasn’t – but many people each day have to face the news that it is, indeed, cancer, and many more are supporting loved ones and friends who are facing the illness in one form or another. Today is World Cancer Day. A diagnosis of cancer does not always mean terminal illness of course, but still the World Health Organisation estimates that, globally, by 2030 there will be 12 million cancer deaths per year.
And yet I’ve found in the course of my ministry that many people are still very reluctant to talk about death from any cause. Perhaps it’s superstition or maybe it’s fear, sometimes it’s ignorance and other times it’s embarrassment. But families might be spared so much anguish if discussions about dying, about funerals and preferences, and all those other important conversations have taken place earlier rather than later, even where there’s no illness. And for ourselves, at any stage of life, a realistic preparation for the fact of our ending can allow us to live with greater focus.
Lord of time, we offer our days to you, whether they’re long or short, and remember your promise that there are many rooms in our Father’s house. We ask for peace, comfort and hope for those living with cancer, and those who seek to support them. Amen.