“Suffering will come at some stage in every Christian’s life. It will either drive you deeper in your relationship with God or turn you away from him. Your call which…” – Dr Adrian Warnock
Christians are being encouraged to remember that they can get sick just like anyone else and to learn the symptoms of Leukaemia during Blood Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) which takes place in the UK throughout September. Leukaemia Care, a British blood cancer charity, is attempting to raise awareness of the disease, as well as its signs and symptoms, as part of their #SpotLeukaemia campaign.
London-based Christian author Dr Adrian Warnock is now urging others to be more aware of the symptoms after his own experience with blood cancer. Adrian is best known among Christians for his blog on Patheos, and his books Raised With Christ and Hope Reborn. He has also appeared on Christian radio and TV in debates and interviews.
He said, “Just over a year ago, I was a healthy 46-year-old with a successful professional career as well as my writing. I had worked for the NHS as a doctor and then the pharmaceutical industry where I helped to run the clinical trials that give us new medicines, and to communicate the results. I had no idea this doctor was about to become a patient.
I was unprepared because to some extent I had absorbed a faulty functional theology that many of us share in the Western Church today. It isn’t the theology I’ve been taught or thought I believed. But somehow, I had not sufficiently challenged the assumption that if I worship and serve God faithfully, He would shield me from serious suffering.
One day I was travelling home from my office on the underground. As I stepped off a train my legs suddenly buckled under me. I became breathless, and my smart watch showed a fast pulse. I also felt my brain became fuzzy. I was carried out of the station, taken to A and E by ambulance and was diagnosed with pneumonia.
A couple of days later I was an inpatient at a different hospital. A doctor from the first hospital telephoned me to say they were almost sure that I had blood cancer. There was no support made available to me at the time.
It took more than two weeks to confirm I did indeed have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL), and that as a result my immune system was weak. Perhaps we should have been suspicious years earlier when I had shingles twice, much younger than most people.
Many people with leukaemia do not die from the illness directly, but from an infection their body can’t fight off. Early diagnosis and careful monitoring could save lives.
If I had known about my leukaemia, I would have gone to the GP with the mild cough I had for a couple of weeks and perhaps avoided weeks of hospital treatment. A mild infection can be much more serious for someone with leukaemia. Like many Christian men I rarely visited my GP before this illness. Now I am there often dealing quickly with infections and other symptoms.
My experience of ‘Watch and Wait’ has not been smooth. I have had multiple infections, been admitted to hospital several times, and needed two lots of surgery to remove the cancer growing in my throat. I also experience severe fatigue and have had to stop working for now.
For the first nine months my illness was stable, but since February it has speed up significantly. The number of cancer cells in my blood is now doubling every three months. My doctors are planning to start chemotherapy or similar treatment in the next few weeks, which prompts both the fear of side effects and the hope of improvement in my symptoms.
Leukaemia has been like a tsunami doing its best to destroy my whole life including my faith. Suffering will come at some stage in every Christian’s life. It will either drive you deeper in your relationship with God or turn you away from him. Your call which.”
In 2015, 9,900 people were diagnosed with Leukaemia, according to Cancer Research UK. That’s 27 people each day. Leukaemia can be hard to spot because the signs and symptoms are common to other unrelated illnesses. The six most common symptoms experienced by all leukaemia patients prior to diagnosis are:
FatigueBruising or bleedingBone/Joint painFever or night sweatsSleeping problemsShortness of breath
Leukaemia has been like a tsunami doing its best to destroy my whole life including my faith. Suffering will come at some stage in every Christian’s life. It will either drive you deeper in your relationship with God or turn you away from him. Your call which.
In 2015, 9,900 people were diagnosed with Leukaemia in the UK*. That’s 27 people each day. Leukaemia can be hard to spot because the signs and symptoms are common to other unrelated illnesses. The six most common symptoms experienced by all leukaemia patients prior to diagnosis are:
- Bruising or Bleeding
- Bone/Joint pain
- Fever or night sweats
- Sleeping problems
- Shortness of breath
The campaign seeks to raise awareness of what leukaemia is, the symptoms to spot and who can be affected by leukaemia. The charity wants to equip people to spot the signs and symptoms of leukaemia, and urge them to visit their GP if they have any concerns. Early diagnosis saves lives and improves outcomes.
Leukaemia Care are giving away free symptoms cards to raise awareness of the types of leukaemia and to empower people to visit their GP if they feel worried. The campaign can be found on social media by searching #SpotLeukaemia.
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