Day 2 of the conference began with a superb presentation by the conference organiser, combining some careful theological material with some very personal experience, his little granddaughter has neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. As part of what he shared was this, penned his daughter, the little girl's mother:
We can't go back to normal
Who wants to anyway?
We take this time, we learn from it
We love life more than then.
© Katie Sharples
Very wide-ranging topics, some quantum physics, some Hebrew etymology on the Genesis 1 story, a powerful presentation on Soul Nursing by a very clever Palliative Care Nurse (suspect it was her entire Masters dissertation summarised), a panel of medics being asked about how they related their spirituality to practice (and a good range they were from a Maltese Catholic palliative care doctor to a charismatic evangelical surgical oncologist in colorectal care, and most station between!).
Lunch with some wonderful hospice chaplains (thank you for buying me lunch) and chats with many others – one who had even found this blog (hello!).
I had a wonderful time, amazingly I managed to concentrate through the whole thing (25-30 mins talking being sermon length I guess) and have even retained some of what I heard – copious notes have their uses. I felt that my paper had held its own in the context of a event, which was both a big relief and a big encouragement – the first serious bit of theological-ish writing from scratch since my diagnosis – it was a thrill to realise I can still do it, even if it was SO hard!
Perhaps the unexpected bonus of the whole event has been the recovery of a bit of confidence… no-one can ever take me back to the BC (Before Cancer) place but the AD (After Diagnosis) place has its own delights to reveal as I journey onwards. So the doctoral route was not to be, but nothing is wasted and in all things God works for good for those who love God, and now I find, to my amazement I contribute to the body of knowledge on 'Theology, Spirituality and Cancer' – who'd have thought it?