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Publication Date: 19 Jan 2017
Publisher: SPCK Publishing
Page Count: 176
Author: Gillian Straine
ISBN-13: 9780281075027, 9780281075034

Cancer: A Pilgrim Companion

By Gillian Straine
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ISBN: 9780281075027
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ISBN: 9780281075034
A cancer diagnosis is a seismic event. It divides life into before and after, and propels the diagnosed into places of suffering, pain and isolation; life is turned upside down in the present while the future horizon clouds with uncertainty and fear. Despite someone getting diagnosed with cancer in the UK every two minutes, cancer is a disease that is often described as lonely as the sufferer sets out on a tough journey through waiting, treatment and recovery.
In this wise and compassionate book, cancer survivor Gillian Straine proposes that this journey through illness, pain and anxiety be reconceptualised as a pilgrimage of discovery. The Christian faith is that we are never abandoned by God, and this promise holds wherever we might find ourselves, whether that is in the doctor's waiting room, in a chair receiving chemotherapy or lying on the surgeons table. Following the journey of Jesus through the darkness of Gethsemane, to the cross and into the silent waiting of Holy Saturday, this book invites the reader to seek God in their experience of cancer and, by pointing to the glimmers of resurrection hope in remission and beyond, to find healing in their own story of illness.
About the Author
The Revd. Dr. Gillian K. Straine is the Director of the Guild of Health and St. Raphael. An Anglican Priest, she also has a doctorate in Physics from Imperial College London and is the author of Introducing Science and Religion: A path through polemic (SPCK, 2014). Gillian was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 21 and has been in remission since 2002. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.
Press Reviews

It is rare to find a book that is a true spiritual companion in the midst of illness and suffering. But Gillian Straine’s beautifully-observed book offers empathy, compassion and deep solace to those who are walking the lonely and dark path that cancer often brings. Few spiritual writers can turn their own experience of suffering and depletion into something wholesome and sustaining for others. This book not only manages that, but does so with realism, authenticity, wisdom, grace and hope. This is a profound and practical book that nourishes and nurtures – soul and body alike. Gillian Straine has given us a gem to treasure.

- The Very Revd Prof. Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford

Gillian Straine has produced a deeply personal and searingly honest theological reflection on her own experience of joining what she calls the ‘cancer community’. Tackling major themes such as ‘meaning’ and ‘vulnerability’, she explores the ‘gift of cancer’ – which is the way in which it exposes the myth that we are truly in control of our own lives. Her recurring emphasis on the importance of relationship and her use of pilgrimage as a metaphor for her own journey makes this a valuable and readable book of practical guidance and encouragement for fellow travellers. The message is clear and simple: God is with us, and there is hope.

- Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle and Church of England’s lead bishop on health

A ‘searching, wise book’ that ‘gives valuable guidelines’.

- Church Times

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