Norwich pastor talks of battle against cancer
2008: Pastor Tom Chapman
of Surrey Chapel
says that faith in Christ has given him help, hope and a sense of humour through his recent brain cancer diagnosis and treatment.
With the help of his wife, Suzanne – and his redundant radiotherapy mask – he’s been talking to Surrey Chapel’s Activ8 Women’s group about his experiences.
Tom first felt symptoms in summer 2003. “I had become the pastor of a large church at the age of 30 and was bringing up a young family,” he said. “It was easy to dismiss my occasional odd mental episodes as symptoms of tiredness and stress.”
But an MRI scan and biopsy last year revealed the full truth. A large tumour – low grade but malignant and inoperable – was growing in his brain. “It affected the part that thinks, reads and speaks,” he said, “which as a pastor, I rather need!”
“Yes, being told you have a tumour that may well kill you in a few years is as horrible as you imagine – like a physical kick in the stomach – and it is still easy to feel gloomy,” says Pastor Tom, who has three young sons. “But because of Christ we don’t face these things alone, we don’t face these things for nothing and we don’t face these things for ever.”
“All through this awful experience, we’ve never once had to ask the question ‘why?’,” says Suzanne. “Jesus never said that we should expect an easy life. We know that God has a purpose for everything that happens in our lives. This last year has really tested out whether we really believe what we say we believe, helped us to put our faith in him and talk about him more freely.”
After a good response to a six-week course of radiotherapy, and a great deal of prayer, Tom is now symptom-free and fully back in action. Although the future remains unclear for him, it is simply a more intense form of the mortality we all face. So Tom and Suzanne are keen that other people should get to hear how God has helped them through this time.
“To be diagnosed with cancer is not the worst thing that could happen,” Tom says, “and to be cured of it would not be the best thing. The best thing has already happened to me – I know the love of God – and I want others to know him too.”
If you would like to hear Tom’s story you can at Momentum
, the Surrey Chapel Men’s Group, on May 28,
at the Waffle House in Norwich, at 7pm. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
to reserve a place by May 21.
Tom and Suzanne would be happy to consider speaking at other churches and groups if invited and they are very grateful for the support and prayer received from the wider Christian community in Norwich.
Contact: 01603 619555.
Pictured above are Tom and Suzanne Chapman.