Outpatient Chris Fry talks about his experience of Martlets and how his faith helps him live life to the full.
I remember the day I found out I had cancer and that it was incurable. As I came out of the hospital it was beautiful and sunny outside. There were people going about their everyday business, as I would have been. But the diagnosis had changed everything.
Thankfully, I was speedily referred to an oncologist. I started chemotherapy within a fortnight and this has continued for 15 months. I was also referred to Martlets.
Support from Martlets
The network of support Martlets has offered has been invaluable. A volunteer rapidly filled out a form with me so I could get attendance allowance. They also made sure I could get a ‘blue badge’; this has been massively helpful in terms of parking. These were really precious and practical things that have made a difference.
Martlets also made it possible for me to have various disability aids installed at home. They brought me some toilet chairs and put grab hooks in the bathroom. I’ve also been given one of those clever chairs that reclines and provides support for the legs. The phone hub team at Martlets calls every two weeks. They’re keen to check how I am and if they can be of further help. This is much appreciated.
As a resident of Brighton and Hove, I’ve long recognised the importance of Martlets. But it’s only when incurable illness strikes you personally, or affects someone you love, that you realise its true worth.
My Christian faith is really important to me
I’ve been able to speak with Nicholas, the hospice chaplain. It was good to be able to talk and we could’ve gone on for hours. We’re not coming from quite the same place in terms of my faith and his. But it was so interesting to hear where he was coming from and to share my beliefs. I can see that it’s helpful at Martlets to be able to talk to someone like Nicholas. As you have patients and families of all faiths and none, it’s important he has empathy that’s broadly focused. This is valuable in the Martlets setting.
It’s difficult to talk about cancer. Men, especially, find it hard. Can we make sense of this difficult subject? Cancer used to be covered over; even the word wasn’t spoken. Death is no friend. It’s frightening in its apparent bleakness, darkness and loneliness. Why would we want to look at it if it could always be pushed to the margins? If it could appear to be nothing by not being thought about? But it is worthy of thought.
Some people with terminal cancer do try to think about dying. They write blogs to try to make sense of what they are facing. Is this the end for me? Does everything stop now? Is the life that I’ve lived eventually of zero significance?
These are hard thoughts to think. Hard for me, hard for you. But, because of Jesus Christ’s dying and resurrection, as I commit my life to him I have hope facing death and the life to come. This life is short and the best way I can live is not to make too many plans. Instead I try with God’s help to live each day to the full and with integrity so that I am ready to die. I have a deep sense that there is eternal life beyond death, with Jesus at the heart of it.