Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Three and a half years on

In other news, it's been about three and a half years since I finished treatment and there has been no sign of any relapse, for which I praise God! I saw my oncologist a few days ago and am now only going to have appointments every six months, which will cease if I make it to five years.

Jessica and I were reflecting again with some Australian friends who visited recently that coming to Scotland was a very effective way of "moving on" from my period with cancer. We arrived to a situation in which I was no longer being asked about my health every day and where people didn't look at me and immediately think of cancer, loved ones they'd lost, their anxieties for those still ill, and their own mortality. Although these connotations often opened up some deep conversations, it also closed down other ones. It has been nice to no longer be a walking reminder of our mortality and to be a mere mortal again.

(Now people look at me and think of birth instead of death!)


Philip said...

Wow, isn't it amazing, to the praise of His glory and grace.
Still 'still not dead' (April 09).
From 'cancer patient' to 'mere mortal', to 'new dad' (each shift a miracle) ...
Thanks for your example of living through each period with one consistent label in mind - 'redeemed' (the most miraculous one of all).

byron smith said...

Thanks Phil - it is indeed a series of wonderful gifts, each thoroughly undeserved. Praise God for his grace and mercy.

Anonymous said...

I praise the lord for this Byron. You have done well in moving your way forward in not describing yourself as a cancer patient.

How would you describe your journey of faith over the last 3 years.

byron smith said...

Thanks Craig - I think moving to the UK has really helped at both a psychological and social level to move on from that period in my life, even though many of the effects will be with me long term (and could mean my long term is shorter than it might otherwise be!). I praise God to no longer be "cancer boy" in either my own head or most other people's.

Last three years of my journey of faith - hmmm, depends how long you've got!

The short version would be that my PhD work has really been testing and humbling me in new ways, throwing me even more on the grace of Christ. Being in a new country has been something of a strain - mainly through being away from support networks of people who know and love us. And becoming a father a year ago was indeed all the clich├ęs and more. Delight and gratitude (and another bout of humbling) are the overriding notes so far.

Anonymous said...

Byron, sorry for not replying to your response earlier. I don't get notifications of comments and replies made to your blog; which means I have to manually check.

I think there is a way to be notified in a reader, I don't know how though.

I can relate to your journey of faith and what you mean about getting it out of your head the tag "Cancer Boy" and what the long term effects are...

I found it a struggle to return to study also; yet thoroughly enjoying it and engaging the brain once again.

How has your experience changed or added to your thoughts about Christian ethics within the scope of suffering?

Sorry for asking if you have posted on this question or train of thought elsewhere.

byron smith said...

Hi Craig - If you have a Gmail account and sign into it to leave comments on blogger, then you get an option to "email follow up comments to [your email]". Not sure if there are other options for those without Gmail or who prefer not to use it for commenting.

How has your experience changed or added to your thoughts about Christian ethics within the scope of suffering?
That's a very broad question, as it turns out! I guess I'd say that being sick is a significant part of what prompted my turning to theological ethics rather than theology (which is where I was probably headed prior to getting sick), and the inspiration and shape of my present research project draws much from reflections on responding in faith to bad news when I was ill. There are probably more blog posts than I can remember that relate in some way to my experience, but here is the sermon I gave at my thanksgiving service (once it was clear that I was on my way out of the woods and not into the ground), here is a reflection on cancer and economic growth, here is a reflection on cancer and scientific knowledge, here is where I first announced my diagnosis and had some initial thoughts, here is the sermon that I was meant to preach soon after being diagnosed, but couldn't deliver due to lack of voice (very ironically, as it was on Zechariah's song) and here is a short series written as I began treatment reflecting on death theologically (indeed, almost every post for a couple of months from this one (the day after my diagnosis) was shaped by my experiences at the time).

You could also look at things on my main blog tagged cancer, suffering, death, medicine or ethics for more.