Network Norwich and Norfolk > People > Norwich pastor’s peace over brain tumour op

Norwich pastor’s peace over brain tumour op

Despite the recurrence of an aggressive brain tumour, Norwich pastor Tom Chapman says he has an incredible sense of peace and the joy of being able to look forward to Christmases beyond this one.  Jenny Seal reports.

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Tom Chapman is the 42-year-old pastor of Surrey Chapel, located near to Norwich's Anglia Square.   In 2007, Tom underwent radiotherapy for a brain tumour.  He enjoyed five years of good health until it became clear, earlier this year, that the tumour had recurred in a more aggressive form and he would be fortunate to live another 18 months.
 
Tom said: "It was a bad time.  We have three boys and a little girl who has just turned three and is too young to understand.  The boys are 14, 12 and 10 so we had to explain what was happening and that there was a good chance that they wouldn't have a dad for very long." 
 
Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge encouraged Tom and his wife, Suzanne, to consider the option of surgery alongside chemotherapy.  While there was a real risk that Tom would lose up to 40% of his eyesight and that it wouldn't be possible to remove the entire tumour, surgery would make Tom more comfortable and the tumour more accessible to chemotherapy.
 
Tom said: "I originally thought no, but over time was persuaded that perhaps it was the best thing to try - it gave us the better chance for God to make a difference.  And indeed He did!"
 
On the morning of the surgery in July, a large gathering of the church met at Surrey Chapel to pray for Tom and the operating surgeon. 
 
Fully expecting to wake up with half his vision, Tom was amazed to open his eyes and see better than before.  All the visible tumour and mass had been removed, including parts the surgeon had thought couldn't be.  And the biopsies indicate that there is a good likelihood that the remaining cells will respond well to chemotherapy. 
 
Tom said: "Any one of those three things would have seemed a remarkable blessing and answer to prayer, but for all three to have come off is staggering. The doctors now say that instead of keeping me comfortable for 18 months they are looking to keep me alive for years."
 
But it is not the results of the surgery that Tom cites as the greatest miracle.  It is the sense of peace he and his wife had in the month beforehand despite knowing the risks and prognosis.
 
Tom said: "It had been a pretty tormented time.  But when we felt it was right to go ahead with the surgery we suddenly found ourselves in a time of great peace.  That peace came from knowing Jesus had died for me and I had a relationship with God that would last forever." 
 
He is conscious that many people don't find a tangible answer to prayer for physical healing, but Tom would counsel those facing cancer to seek it and crucially not to give up.  He would also encourage others facing cancer to embrace the opportunity to look beyond this life and focus on what really matters. 
 
Tom is back at work.  He currently struggles to read aloud and so finds preaching a challenge, but one which he hopes to overcome in the future. For now, he is looking forward to enjoying Christmas and life beyond without a dark cloud over his head.
 
If you would like to contact Tom about issues within this article please call Surrey Chapel on 01603 619555 or email at church at office@surreychapel.org.uk 
 
Pictured above is Norwich pastor Tom Chapman.


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