S T   C U T H B E R T ’ S  H O U S E Hermitage of the Diocese of Nottingham               

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     Epiphany  2016

Dear Friends and Family.

2015 the Synopsis:  I was struck down with a touch of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in my face early in January 2015.  It took a while to get everything into gear but I was eventually given a diagnosis, courtesy of a fortnight in Lincoln County Hospital in May, and spent the rest of spring/summer in chemo and radiotherapy - picking up a separate diagnosis of Total-Heart-Block (I know, I know) and the requisite pacemaker along the way.  I have delayed my newsletter this year in the hope of being able to share the results of my exit PET scan.  I received the phone call this morning.  All Clear.  Hoorah!  Getting fit again is taking a while, but I am looking forward to being more active in early 2016.  They say that for the lucky ones, cancer takes a year out of your life.  A year and a day to be precise.

In the meantime, I have been thrilled and in much wonderment at the support of family and friends who have rallied around to enable me to continue my life in the hermitage with minimum disruption.  Names are too many, and I am sure to miss someone out, so, generally, abundant thanks to my family for the regular visits, phone calls, and support in hospital clinics, making sure I asked the essential questions and remembered the essential answers; also for the provision of a cleaner & gardener to keep SCH shipshape for the duration.  And to friends, local and distant, for visits, messages, cards and practical support.  A particular mention perhaps to my FB friends: my presence on Facebook raises the occasional eyebrow of those who imagine religious hermits to be bearded cave-dwellers, avid eschewers of all things technological. Without the day-to-day encouragement and emotional support abundantly offered by friends on social media, this journey would have been very much more difficult.  Thank you everyone!

In other news:  It wouldn’t be an odd-numbered year without a visit from some sort of press representative.  2015 was the year of Reuters, in the person of a young independent photo journalist (Neil Hall) who hoped to be able to offer the story to Head Office in Singapore. He was prepared to duck & dive around my most debilitating treatments and eventually produced a mash-up of hermitage highlights in which Mrs Hennypenny is pleased to be playing a starring role.  The published version is available here: http://watch.reuters.tv/1b0 and here: http://widerimage.reuters.com/story/out-of-the-cave-and-onto-facebook with follow-ups courtesy of the independent here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/sister-rachel-denton-why-i-founded-a-one-nun-hermitage-a6706916.html  and the BBC World Service, here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p039z0nt (from 37 mins onwards) .  As ever, I am moved by the interest in the eremitical life, in places and cultures far removed from my own.  If anybody would like to know the backstory behind “practicing for hours by myself throwing a ball at the wall” then I would be happy to enlighten you.  Believe me, context is everything!

My year has been so occupied by all the medical stuff, that I have very little else to report, so a somewhat shorter letter than usual.  On the plus side, I am looking forward to being able to keep my health out of the news for the foreseeable.  A round of relieved applause!

Blessings and prayers for your own good health & well-being throughout the coming year.  There are folk close to me who have not been so fortunate in their prognosis.  I hold them in the glow of my recovery prayers, and would ask you to pray for them too.

Rachel M Denton +

Hermit of the Diocese of Nottingham