The Old Mill, Bleadney, Wells, Somerset, BA5 1PF

28 October 2016

Dear Friends of the Diocese of Gloucester

I think it is maybe time for an update on my health. Excuse an email to so many people at once.

But first thank you for all the letters, emails, cards and other messages and the prayers. We have a wonderful sense of being encouraged, supported and upheld, for which I am grateful every day. One of the things that hasn’t got much better is my ability to type, and even more to write, which means that not all emails and letters are getting a reply, for which I am sorry, but I am reading them and engaging with them carefully and gratefully.

Alison and I had a good consultation this week with the oncologists at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. The outcome, based on the decision that I would prefer quality of life to length of days, is that I will have a short three-week course of radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy beginning on 10 November. The longer six-week course is gruelling, time consuming and induces considerable fatigue and, although might achieve more longevity, this might not be of sufficient quality to make it worthwhile. We hope the three-week course will achieve some good outcomes, with less overall cost, and should enable me to continue to do some work and to enjoy the time that I would otherwise spend in prolonged treatment. Any further surgery has been ruled out.

November into early December will be tough, but by Christmas and then into the New Year life should look up and be more comfortable and fulfilling, perhaps for several months. We know I am unlikely to survive a year and that the best quality is likely to be from January and February onwards, but that there will be a decline as time continues. I’m really up for the cycle of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and then Easter, which will be an amazing journey to make for the last time, with words and music that I’ve loved over the years, and there are some family celebrations on the way too, not least our Anna and her Tom’s wedding in February, and lots for which to be thankful.

I hope “Living well and dying well” doesn’t sound pretentious as a description of how I might be able to play the next stages in my life. I know Alison and our family want me to be able to do that and will help it happen. There must be some challenging moments ahead, but I am still with Julian of Norwich and “All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well”.

We’ll keep you posted and we rejoice in all the prayers.

With much gratitude and affection

Michael