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Three victories

23 May 2014

THREE times the Revd Paul Ginever has been diagnosed with cancer, and three times he has overcome the disease. Now, at 65, after 15 years as Vicar of St Mary's, Hayling Island, in Portsmouth diocese, he is leaving "to explore my discipleship in retirementand . . . to be useful in this new era of my life".

Eighteen years ago, after his struggling for breath was diagnosed as stress, he was found to have a melon-sized tumour in his chest. "I felt anger and disbelief; I thought I was too young to die at 45."

Emergency surgery, then chemotherapy and radiotherapyin a hospice, followed, and within12 months he was cancer-free. "I remember prancing about on Bournemouth beach, thanking my lucky stars I could run again." But, in 2003, stomach cancer was diagnosed, for which he was given stem-cell therapy with "a large blast of chemotherapy". He was clear again after six months, but, two years later, while he was planning his daughter's wedding, the cancer returned, this time in his bowel, part of which was removed. Since then, he has been free of cancer.

But, he says, the experience has given him an understanding of how people feel when they are suffering. "When parishioners have a similar diagnosis, I have an empathy that goes deeper than words. I also have an understanding of what acute hospital wards are like. I'm sureGod has kept me alive for a reason, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve him in a new way."

All his six children and four grandchildren were at his farewell parish eucharist recently, and inthe evening there was a farewell Taizé service, followed by refreshments.

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