Marjorie Conroy

In February 2010 I was diagnosed with a fairly rare cancer which had spread to my ovaries and many other parts, but was classed as ovarian, with the same treatment. The initial outlook was fairly bleak but from the start, the Lord gave me his amazing peace and over the months and weeks ahead, I felt I was enclosed in what felt like ‘a big God bubble.’ I have to admit that when I told my wonderful family and friends, it did feel like the bubble was about to burst, but thankfully it didn’t.

Then in October the same year, I suffered a massive heart attack requiring four stents to be fitted in a hospital in Liverpool. Around this time, it was suggested that I join a support group, but I felt well supported by my faith, family and friends.

Towards the end of 2011, a Macmilan nurse mentioned a group run by them called ‘EVOC’ which met four times per year, in Liverpool, which I could get to by train (no need to drive on off days). So I went along and really enjoyed it. I found it very positive, funny, uplifting, yet also educational.

At the beginning of 2012, a lady called Bernie was one of the guest speakers. She was saying how healing singing can be. She had us doing breathing exercises, warm ups and then simple songs as a group, and split into two parts. We were harmonising within 10-15 minutes, but what impressed me was that she had us all in stitches and it was so enjoyable.

A few weeks later a Macmilan nurse said they had some funding to start our own choir and Bernie would teach us. I was told I could also bring a friend or carer. I can’t sing a note and was also due to start chemo again, yet I knew I wanted to be around this positive lady again. So I went along with my friend Sheena and found it fun and therapeutic. I wrote a poem about the choir (which we called ‘Evocalize’) and I shared this to encourage anyone who isn’t certain about joining a group, to find one that suits you.

We are not an island – we need others both to give and receive fellowship from and to. We can laugh together and cry together. Our God is a good God. Trust him – even going through cancer we can still live the abundant life – just in a new and different way. We can live John 10 v 10, because cancer is not ‘The Big C’ - our Lord and Saviour is.

Cancer, Chemo, Cards and Choir

First comes the CANCER word, now that’s quite a shock.
Legs that are trembling, hearts that almost stop.
That word to be uttered to both family and friends
Watching them reel, seeing them swaying, seeing the rock.
Then along comes the chemo with its own type of roll
Life starts to change – many days taking their toll.
So thankful for the cards that come first class, hearing them fall
And let’s not mention the hair at all…
While some people draw near, others just pass on by
Promising to speak about your cancer
On a better speak easy day.
Sad – there goes the chance of a loving hug
Or maybe the chance to say ‘Will you please pray?’
Yet so many people are a blessing, day after day.
Our journeys are all different, each our own way we have to trust.
Our personal sat navs, we align and adjust,
To live, love and laugh on our sunshine days, becomes a must.
Drawing strength from our faith, something deep within.
In God, in doctors nurses and the NHS, and so many people we trust.
Going to EVOC is becoming a fantastic must.
Then along comes Bernie – ‘the voice’
Full of fun and laughter, she gives us a choice.
“Join in this choir – anyone can sing.”
Give her ten weeks, let’s see what we can bring.
We practise, we slaughter some of the songs we sing
But oh the laughter, joy and encouragement she brings
The ten weeks have flown and passed by; we are here – my oh my.
We are amazed you will all stay til the very last
But thank you so much – we had a blast.
The memories of tonight in our hearts, forever will last.

Marjorie Conroy