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Christ Church vicar supports his Bishop
THE VICAR of Christ Church has offered his support to the Bishop of Swindon who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Bishop of Swindon, the Right Reverend Dr Lee Rayfield, was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma at the end of August, and started his first cycle of chemotherapy this week.
On hearing the news, Reverend Simon Stevenette, 51, who was diagnosed with the same disease 10 years ago, offered his support and prayers to the Bishop from his family and parishioners.
He said: “What I’ve said to him is our love and our support and our prayers go out to him.
“I think he has been overwhelmed with all the love he has received.
“On behalf of the community our love and support and encouragement and prayer go out to him.
“The hospital will give him the best treatment.
“There’s a time to rest and there’s a time to talk and a time to be still, so I told Lee to pay attention to what his body is telling him.”
Simon also wanted to offer a prayer from a Ugandan HIV orphan: ‘O Lord help me understand that nothing will come my way which you and me together can’t handle’.
He also spoke about his own experiences after he was diagnosed with the disease in August 2003, when he underwent six cycles of chemotherapy treatment. He is now in long-term remission.
“There was just a huge amount of love and support,” he said.
“The staff in the Osprey unit were just brilliant and there was just so much encouragement. I am a keen cyclist and they encouraged me to bring my bike in and when I could push the pedal I was just in floods of tears thinking about how I was recovering.”
Weeks after the birth of his fifth son, Hugo, Simon suffered a relapse which saw him take a six month break.
He underwent two sets of intensive chemotherapy before being taken to the Churchill Hospital in Oxford where some of his stem cells were harvested.
He then returned to the Great Western Hospital where he underwent more chemotherapy before receiving a stem cell transplant in 2005.
The Bishop’s diagnosis did not come as a complete shock after a benign enlarged lymph node was removed from behind his ear last summer.
Another enlarged lymph node was also found in his neck, but this did not appear to be malignant at the time.
By June this year, this had increased in size and it was found to be cancerous.
Dr Rayfield said: “In the event, it is good news that I have Hodgkin Lymphoma rather than another tumour since Hodgkin’s is a better understood malignancy with an effective treatment regimen and good prognosis.
“That both of the enlarged nodes have been visible has also been a blessing.
“I had no other symptoms and have been in extremely good health of late.”
The Bishop’s treatment will involve four cycles of chemotherapy and short course of radiotherapy which are likely to cause fatigue and put him at risk of infection.
He expects that during this time he will be absent from public ministry.
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