Hello. My name is Venetia Horton, and I have been coming to Aylesbury Vineyard for four or five years. I live in Thame with my husband and three cats, and I have one daughter and one granddaughter. Having retired from paid employment, I now spend most of my time researching and writing my book on the history of Christianity in Great Britain and Ireland.
One of the reasons I gave up my job was because I was finding it harder and harder to cope with a full day’s work. Then I found out the reason. I was diagnosed with a rare non-familial medullary cancer, and in June last year I underwent an operation to take out my thyroid. The following month I also had an op for skin cancer on my nose – you may have seen me wandering around with a bandage on my face!
So naturally I was a bit jumpy when a new lump appeared on my jaw in December and I was given an emergency appointment at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford. I asked people on the prayer chain for support, but I was quite surprised when one of them offered to take me to the appointment. I mean – she must have so many other things to do – I could get there by myself, couldn’t I? But she insisted that she would like to come, so one dark morning she picked me up and we drove into Oxford.
Thankfully, the doctor gave me good news and said there were no signs of cancer and that I would only need to go back for regular check-ups. But what has stayed with me, and what I am still giving thanks for, is my friend’s amazing kindness for the gift of her time.
I sometimes find it very hard to accept help. I even find it hard to ask the Lord for help, thinking he must have ‘more important’ stuff to deal with. But I have come to realise that this is not the right way to honour God.
I know – in theory – that one should surrender everything to the Lord, but this is hard. A friend once told me he used to mentally list all his precious CDs and records in prayer, saying ‘That’s yours, Lord, everything I have is yours – take it if you need it – or if it’s not doing me any good.’
When I was told I had cancer I was horrified, and it took me a few months to come to terms with the diagnosis. But when my friend insisted that she would like to come with me to the hospital appointment, I realised that I didn’t have to face this alone. I am so very grateful for her kindness and compassion.