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Why Pause for Hope?


At least one in three people nowadays will develop some kind of cancer. Many will be cured but some common forms of cancer still carry a high mortality.

For most people a diagnosis of cancer will come as a shock and will follow a period of investigation which, as well being unpleasant in itself, brings with it a worrying sense of uncertainty and an apprehension of the possible outcomes, together with a stark awareness of one’s own mortality.

When the diagnosis is confirmed and the options presented most people will feel devastated and apprehensive. Many will face up to the situation with bravery and a determination to ‘fight it’ while others will feel frightened about what lies ahead and have difficulty coping.

Treatment follows diagnosis. In some cases that will mean palliative care but, for most, various combinations of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy in all their forms will be used. None of them are pleasant and, in many cases, treatment can be prolonged.

Treatment can be successful resulting in a cure, it can be palliative and prolong life or it can be ineffective so that the cancer progresses and the patient faces dying.

In all of this the support of family and friends is crucial to coping with the daily demands of investigation and treatment and of dealing with the mental and physical stresses which accompany them. Nurses and doctors are an important source of informed and emotional support.

It is at this time that many people, not just patients and but families as well, will turn to God even if they have not done so for many years. They may ask God why he has allowed this to happen to them and may possibly feel bitter, although the fact of asking is a prayer in itself. Most will pray in hope for a successful treatment while, for those with a poor prognosis, it can be a time for ever closer relationships with loved ones and friends and preparation for the inevitable outcome part of which can be an increasing awareness of the loving presence of God in their final journey.

Whatever the stage of their disease, few will understand that the distress which they are suffering can contain anything good whereas it can have great value in the eyes of God when accepted for his sake and united to the sufferings of Christ. In this way it becomes a form of prayer which can be offered for whatever intention they choose or in reparation for some of the horrendous offences against God which take place across the world.

The purpose of Pause for Hope is to help people affected in any way by cancer, or in its management and care, to pray more and, if possible, to come together in prayer to find hope and mutual support in prayer, to pray for themselves, their carers, the doctors and nurses and others looking after them, for those with responsibility for providing and managing resources for cancer and for the scientists researching the cure to cancer.

Board of Trustees

Professor Ray Donnelly FRCS MBE


Ray Donnelly was born in Glasgow in 1936, graduated from St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London, in 1961 and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1969. Cardiac research fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA, in 1973 and in 1975 appointed Consultant in Liverpool, specialising in paediatric cardiac and adult thoracic surgery.

A pioneer of stapling in thoracic and oesophageal surgery, in 1991 he was the first person worldwide to remove a lung cancer using minimally invasive (keyhole) surgery. Author of over 75 scientific papers and a similar number of presentations to learned societies he was elected to membership of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the European Association for Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons USA.

He served on the National Executive of the Society of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and was chairman of the Medical Research Council Working Party on cancer of the oesophagus. He travelled widely as visiting professor to several universities abroad. Ray retired from surgical practice in 1998 and was appointed Professor of Lung Cancer Studies at Liverpool John Moores University. In 1990 he founded the Lung Cancer Fund, later renamed the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University 1994. Appointed MBE in 2009 for voluntary services to healthcare. Citizen of Honour Liverpool 2013. Doctor of Laws University of Liverpool 2019.

Professor Donnelly is a keen golfer, family man and supporter of Liverpool FC, and lives with his wife, Elizabeth, in Formby near Liverpool. They have five grown up children and seven grandchildren.

He is the author of several books including ‘With Jesus to Calvary’, ‘Roy Castle Remembered’ and ‘Cinderella Cancer’ (a personal history of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation).

Marion Needham

Board Secretary

A Cestrian born and bred, Marion started work in the NHS in 1965 as an Administrative Trainee and worked in various roles in Cheshire and Wirral, retiring in 2006 from the post of Director of Human Resources. Following retirement undertaking a number of volunteer roles for a range of different organisations this included ten years as a Trustee at the Hospice of the Good Shepherd. For 18 years, Marion also served as a Governor at Chester College, becoming a member of the University Council when the College attained University status being awarded an honorary Doctorate by them in 2018. A rather different volunteer role was working in a company secretary role for ChesterFC. Links with the Hospice and her husband’s cancer experience drew her to awareness of Pause for Hope and it was her wish to raise awareness of the organisation that led her to join the Chester Pause for Hope group in 2015 and to help with the organisation of the Chester services; Marion joined the PFH board in 2019.

Brian O'Connell

Scotland Representative

Brian Connell born in Glasgow, married to Ann for 49 years, 50th Anniversary on June 26th 2021. 4 sons, 3 grandsons and one Granddaughter. He is the Patron for Pause for Hope in Scotland and works closely with Glasgow Churches Together. At present, Brian is the Past Provincial Grand Knight for the Knights of St COLUMBA Glasgow and Paisley and an active member of his local Church, St Teresa's Possilpark Glasgow. In his spare time Brian enjoys reading, crosswords and walking.

Michael Brookes

Northern Ireland Represenative

Michael is a Geordie although by now must be an adopted scouser as well as an Irishman! He has been married to Dolores from Co Tyrone for nearly 46 years having met at Christ’s College, Liverpool whilst both doing teacher training. They have four children, neatly arranged as girl-boy-girl-boy and they are all married and fairly scattered (Northern Ireland, Wales, Sefton, Merseyside and Australia) so far giving their parents nine grandchildren with the balance clearly in favour of the girls - the latest was born right at the end of February this year - another girl, Aoife Brigid. The children clearly gave the teaching profession the cold shoulder, instead following a career in law and the younger three all in different branches of medicine - orthopaedics, GP and Emergency Medicine. Both Michael and Dolores spent many years teaching - Dolores in languages and Michael teaching RE in North Wales and Liverpool. In between these areas he spent time teaching adults and clergy at what was the Upholland Northern Institute where he was also responsible for developing resources. He has now spent a couple of years setting up a Pause for Hope service in Northern Ireland using his Irish connections and family. Hopefully this will come to fruition in 2021 having been sidelined in 2020 by the pandemic. It’s now expected to be May 2022.

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