RSS Feed

Walking alongside cancer patients

Archive content
This is a text-only version of an article first published on Wednesday, 19 November 2014. Information shown on this page may no longer be current.

"So how long have you been doing this job?" It's a frequent question from patients curious to know why anyone would choose to work in a cancer hospital, let alone become its chaplain.

"I've been involved in this kind of work for quite a long time. " That's the short answer, which usually serves to reassure people that I am no stranger to the depth of human tragedy unfolding around us. But there is a longer answer which reveals the story of a strangely circular vocation.

Twenty five years ago I was working as a consultant in a cancer hospital.

Medicine was my first vocation.

And when it came to choosing a speciality which would stretch and develop me professionally, I opted for oncology.

And that was where I found more than I had bargained for: because it was through listening to patients with cancer that I heard a call to ordination. Walking alongside people on the cancer journey is a profoundly spiritual pilgrimage.

Facing fear and uncertainty with patience and gratitude, with humanity and wisdom, and very often with self-deprecating humour that dismisses any talk of unusual courage as foolish flannel! What I learned from these suffering souls blew my horizons of faith and hope and love beyond imagining.

It was a deeply converting experience in a place of raw human affliction, where day after day the good news of death-and-resurrection living took painful, and very personal shape. So 25 years on, after time serving in parish ministry, in university and theological college work, I find myself back at the bedside.

It's a place of immense privilege for me.

And for my patients, I pray that the presence of a caring and contemplative companion may make it a place of extraordinary spiritual richness and healing.

Page last updated: Tuesday 25th January 2022 11:58 AM
Powered by Church Edit