Childhood cancer is rare, affecting just a few thousand families each year in the UK, and of those, 80% of children diagnosed with cancer survive. But what if your family is in the 20%?
That was the situation that the Redman family found themselves in, and their story is a very human and intensely readable account sharing the depths of anguish and ongoing hope in the midst of the worst thing any dad could imagine happening to his youngest child. Steve’s son Rocky was diagnosed with cancer at the age of four and a half, which eventually killed him two and a half years later. At Least It’s Not Raining tells the story of those two and a half years and is honest about the roller coaster of emotions it inspired.
There were times of driving back and forth from York to the Leeds Children’s Cancer Unit every day when Rocky was in hospital, trying desperately to find food he was willing to eat when feeling so nauseous and struggling financially because of the length of time off work (because it’s hard for one parent to work if the other needs to care for three small daughters at home and a son in hospital twenty miles away). There were difficult decisions about the right treatment, knowing that radiotherapy, operations and drugs are not guaranteed to work and can cause serious side effects: can you put your child through that in the hope it might help?
Then there were good times trying to go on holidays as a family or celebrate Christmas and Easter together and create good memories to treasure. The title comes from the family’s determination to find silver linings in the dark and brooding clouds: what on earth can you be glad about today? Well, at least it’s not raining!
There was sometimes good news, when the cancer went into remission and his hair grew back, and other times when it just hurt so much, when it returned. And there was the desire to help others, which Steve continues to this day by supporting Candlelighters, a local charity which supports families like his facing childhood cancer in Yorkshire.
This book helps support families facing such deep sadness, and at the heart of it is faith. Steve is now pastor of the Ark church in York, which is how I got to know him. He uses his own experience to challenge the idea that God is to blame when children suffer and demonstrates that even in bad times, it’s possible to experience the goodness of God. And the Redman family to this day seem to radiate a sense of peace and purpose in serving others.
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