Bishop well on the road to health

This Is Wiltshire: The Bishop of Swindon,  Lee Rayfield, who is making good progress in his cancer battle The Bishop of Swindon, Lee Rayfield, who is making good progress in his cancer battle

THE Bishop of Swindon, Lee Rayfield, is making a welcome recovery after he was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

The Rt RevDr Rayfield was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma at the end of August shortly before a planned charity cycle from John O’Groat’s to Lands End for leadership development in Uganda.

Dr Rayfield, who was overwhelmed with the well wishes he has received from far and wide, said: “What I am feeling is the cumulative affect of it all. “There are side-effects to chemotherapy but I have been very lucky because I haven’t experienced much sickness. Mostly I feel fatigued.

“I have been overwhelmed by people’s kindness. “I have been deluged with cards and electronic messages of support.

“People who have absolutely no connection with me are taking up paper and pen or the electronic equivalent and writing some inspiring things.”

During the past few months, Dr Rayfield has been absent from public ministry, but has been using the time to visit some of the quieter and smaller churches around Swindon.

He said: “I have adjusted to it. Because of the risk of infection I’ve had to retire from public ministry and sometimes it’s felt like being under house arrest.

“What I have been doing over the last few months is going to church on a Sunday morning at some of the smaller, quieter, early morning services and sitting at the back, arriving five minutes after the service has started and leaving five minutes before it finishes to make sure I don’t catch anything.

“It has been lovely. If it hadn’t been for the cancer I wouldn’t have done this because I’d have been leading services myself.”

Dr Rayfield has also found it a valuable time for reflection.

He said: “It isn’t until you have something like this that you have time to think about you who are.

“You have time to find yourself, and to find God.

“It’s been a time of personal and spiritual reflection.”

The diagnosis did not come as a complete surprise to the Bishop, who had a benign enlarged lymph node removed from behind his ear in 2012.

He also discovered another enlarged lymph node in his neck, but this did not appear to be malignant at the time.

By June this year, it had increased in size and it was found to be cancerous.

Dr Rayfield said: “In the event, it is good news that I have Hodgkin Lymphoma rather than another tumour since Hodgkin’s is a better understood malignancy with an effective treatment regimen and good prognosis. “That both of the enlarged nodes have been visible has also been a blessing .

“I had no other symptoms and have been in extremely good health so there was no indication of any disease.”

Scans will be run on the cancer to see how it has been affected by the course of chemotherapy before Dr Rayfield undergoes a course of radiotherapy in January.

He said: “I’m a very positive man but you have got to be realistic. We’re hoping that the treatment has done the trick but we won’t know until we have the results.”

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