It’s now just on two months since I headed up to London for major surgery to remove a massive GIST stomach tumour – and with it, the whole of the stomach itself, along with the spleen. I’m pleased to report that my recovery has been excellent: everybody from the surgeon down to my local GP, has expressed amazement at the speed of my recovery. Life in nearly all respects, is now almost back to normal: I’ve even resumed part-time work, for just a (very) few hours a week. I’m deeply grateful to the host of friends and supporters who supported me through this time, with prayers, candles and Masses, from at least four continents that I know of. I’m convinced that this wave of support carrying me had something to do with that rapid recovery.
The disruption to my life caused by this, with frequent medical appointments and associated anxiety has been partly responsible for my much reduced activity here at QTC, over the past few months in particular. Now, I’m pleased to say, I’m “Back in the saddle, again”.
However, there’s another, more serious reason for my slowdown – and for getting back in that saddle.
Cardinal Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace:
Homosexuals cannot be criminalized.
We are all growing in this regard.
These are important statements, coming from one of the two most senior African officials at the Vatican, Cardinal Turkson made them in an interview with Frank DeBenardo of New Ways Ministry, who is in Rome for the Family Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
Here at the Queer Church, restructuring continues – and we’re also expanding our ministry.
I began my activities in LGBT ministry by volunteering at the Soho Masses, and went on to begin writing about LGBT faith matters here at Queering the Church. I also became involved with Quest as conference speaker, webmaster and now Quest Bulletin editor, took on additional webmaster responsibilities for the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality, and for the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. I have also facilitated successful workshops for Quest, and on “Next Steps” in expanding LGBT ministry. During the build up to the introduction of UK equal marriage, I was a regular participant in radio and television programmes as an openly gay, Catholic advocate for equality.
After spending last weekend in Rome for the founding conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, this week I am just outside Zurich, for some family time of my own with my daughter and grandchildren. This not however, just holiday time. It’s also very much a working holiday: keeping up with news from Rome on the Family Synod, and pushing ahead with some new projects.
I met this morning with my new parish priest, to tell him about my activities as openly gay activist for LGBT Catholics. I also spoke about my visit this weekend to the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.
A parishioner had said to me a few weeks ago that when I return, she’d be interested in hearing about it – and so would others. She suggested that I should report back to the entire parish – so I put this to the pp this morning. He has no objection in principle, but said I would need to discuss this with the member of the parish council who is responsible for adult education. In fact, I had already done so earlier – his response then was that he had no objection in principle, depending on how it was packaged, but that I would have to speak to the new parish priest.
So – the two key people I’ve spoken to have no objection in principle, and others I’ve discussed the idea with, agree it will be worth doing. On my return from Rome, I’ll have a discussion with both these two, to work out details, and how we want to present the event to the parish.
It’s been a difficult year for me, medically, spiritually and technically – but with your support, I’ve been dramatically reinvigorated, and found renewed clarity and focus.
It was just about a year ago that I learned that the supposed bowel problem that had been troubling me for months, was in fact a rare form of cancer, a massive GIST wrapped around my stomach. Getting to grips with that, and with the major surgery I will need sometime in the next 6-8 weeks, has been a journey and a half.
Even before the onset of the medical trouble, I had been deeply troubled by what I had been doing here at QTC and elsewhere – and what I should be doing. I was asking myself deep questions about my purpose, effectiveness, and priorities. I was also convinced that the troubling abdominal pains I was experiencing (due to the GIST) were in fact stress related.
Then came the technical trouble, when my primary site appears to have been hacked, and became no longer accessible. With difficulty, I was able to retrieve some of my historic material and repost at a new URL (this one), but not all of it. I came to wonder very seriously, whether perhaps it was time to stop, to set aside the keyboard, and attempt to experience for once, some real life, outside of faith and sexuality.
All that changed, a month or two ago, when I agreed to take on two new challenges: editor of the Quest Bulletin, along with my existing role as Quest webmaster, and responsibility for the new websites (in three languages) for the new Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, which has its foundation conference in Rome next month, to coincide with the start of the bishops’ Family Synod, 2015. Continue reading Renewed Focus, Renewed Energy at “The Queer Church”→
I had a phone call today from my specialist nurse at Royal Surrey, with the decision taken by the MDT (multidisciplinary team) that’s been assessing my innards, after my most recent CT scan. I’m summoned to the hospital for a Monday meeting with the senior stomach oncologist to discuss the matter, but it seems the essence of the recommendation is to proceed directly to surgery – they’ve already pencilled in a date of 30th September for the op, and an earlier date for pre-operative tests.
I’m not having it, and have told them so. I must be in Rome on the first October for the foundation conference of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. Somehow, I don’t think they’ll let me fly out the day after major surgery – nor do I think the NHS will cough up for a private air ambulance to Rome. It will be “major” surgery too. Even after the significant shrinkage, the tumour is still pretty big. Anything over 10cm is classified as large (and with it, usually high risk). Mine is down from the original 26 x 20 cm to “only” 18 x 15, which is still much bigger than common or garden “large”.
16And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,18“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED,…
This passage, taken from Jesus’ first recorded public teaching, could almost be taken in modern terminology as as his “mission statement”.
Here is some more from the relevant passage in Isaiah:
1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;
This idea of bringing good news to the afflicted, healing broken hearted LGBT Catholics, goes to the heart of what I’ve been trying to do, for some ten years now – almost exactly, since I first attended a “Soho Mass” at St Anne’s, Soho. Continue reading My Ministry is Valuable – So Fund Me!→
Ever since I first released news of my tumour, I’ve been overwhelmed by expressions of support and prayers. This has again been the case after writing a little more about it here, earlier this week, with more good wishes for my “recovery”. This seems odd, because even though this thing is technically that dread condition, a cancer – it doesn’t feel that way, at all. In fact, apart from some minor inconvenience, I feel generally much better than I’ve done for months and months.