With my track record if I make another 12 years Ill have done well. It annoys me I wanted to do a parachute jump on my 80th birthday. There is a song by Rumer that starts, Is there a place where all I have lost will be returned to me? I get that. I want that.
This testimony was first shared by Wendy Bray with fellow students atTrinity College community earlier this year.
Yesterday I read through all my sporadic blog posts: the first few focus on beginning ordination training; the next few document that simple joy being ambushed by cancer (for the third time).
In that dark week in November 2012, just a few weeks into my first year at Trinity, I spent a lot of time yelling into the wind on the Downs WITH God, actually, I discovered, rather than AT him, at the injustice of it all.
And I drank a lot of single malt far too early in the day for medicinal purposes. It numbed the fear.
But, thanks, largely to a lot of lovely people sitting here, I kept going. Im still here. And by that I mean alive, as well as at Trinity.
I still struggle with being one breast down. Sorry if thats embarrassing for you. Its the left one thats gone by the way to save you wondering, and looking, because people do, believe me.
I struggle I suppose because Im a girlie girl. I often shed a tear when I look in the mirror.
I struggle with the loss of what I perceive as 50% of my femininity; I seem to have become even more of a girlie girl as a result.
I now have a penchant for heels - where did that come from? I never wore heels before. Im tall enough anyway. And my balance is so appalling I fall off them.
I want to buy lacy underwear and perfume and dresses
I DO buy lacy underwear and perfume and dresses.
I guess I am compensating.
I struggle with the way other losses have layered themselves on top: my parents dying a few months apart; three close friends dying from cancer in the last 18 months, the third just before Christmas.
I struggle with the loss of a drug-free life. I have to pop a not particularly nice pill every morning to try to keep the cancer at bay, which offers up its own little selection of side effects. Except I dont get much choice.
And I face loss of my own life. With my track record if I make another 12 years Ill have done well. It annoys me I wanted to do a parachute jump on my 80th birthday.
There is a song by Rumer that starts, Is there a place where all I have lost will be returned to me?
I get that. I want that.
I want to walk in and find everyone I love who Ive lost. And that left breast with its pretty beauty spot that someone just threw into a black plastic sack in a hospital sluice on that fateful day 27 November 2012. (Im quite big on us getting rejuvenated bodies one day.)
Sometimes people dare to say to me, But youre alive and there is that. But does anybody else say that? Am I supposed to be doubly, triply grateful?
Oh I amI have wonderful Never thought Id see that moments like my sons MPhil graduation from Cambridge in the summer( yes, Im showing offI have two brilliant kidsyoure allowed to show them off when you've thought more than a dozen times that youll be leaving them behind with your life).
Its not fun
But then I think of where Im going in September; to what God has called me. To curacy, yes, but to hospitals, bedsides, difficult places of pain.
Im called to sit with people who are facing and have faced loss; who are lost. To understand, just a bit, their pain and try to help them cope with it. Probably to be a purveyor of black humour, when appropriate, because believe me, it does help.
And perhaps to tell other people about the experience of loss so that they can help too.
This whole experience the surgery, the tears, the anger, the wanting to vandalise lingerie posters of women with cleavages in M&S is actually better training than anything else that Trinity, as much as I have loved every single minute (well, almost there have been a few bits Id rather have slept through), could ever have offered.
Tough as it is, Im not saying thats why it all happened but it helps.
And there is a bright side (arent you glad?)
When I had the first cancer 12 years ago, God gave me a kind of mini vision. As I sat in church looking around at everyone, He said, See how I love them and for a split second, because I couldnt have borne it any longer, I was aware, could see, the incredible, unconditional, creative, passionate love with which God loved every person in that room.
I have never forgotten it.
So this life of love and grace that is my life of faith, and actually I dont think theres much more to it than that, is one in which I dance and wrestle with a God who knows me far better than I know myself in all my weakness and fear and sin and vulnerability, but still, miraculously, reckons he can do something with it - and more amazingly - with me to make Him possible in the lives of other people.
So hang on in there guys. Because if He can do that with me, He can do that with all of us.
Pretty brilliant really, isnt it?
About the author
Wendy Bray completed her ordination training and MA in Theology at Trinity College Bristol in June. She is currently serving as curate at St Pancras Church, Plymouth and loving it!
This is an abridged version of a post first published on Wendys blog on 3 March 2014. The full post can be read on