Today’s columnist, Dr Mary Wren: Leave room for mystery

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I heard a really exciting story last weekend. It was from a man who had developed symptoms which were shown to be due to a brain tumour.

The tumour was quite big and a very rare sort.

He was seen by specialists who got advice from around the world on how to treat it because it was so rare.

He was eventually told that he would have a long course of radiotherapy, which may be able to control the tumour but wouldn’t cure it.

Now this man and his wife also had a faith in God – they believed that prayer could change things and that God can do things that medicine is unable to.

So they chose to have the radiotherapy, but also prayed themselves and had prayer at a church they went to.

At the end of the radiotherapy, a scan showed that the tumour had completely gone and several years down the line he is well, with no recurrence.

The specialists he sees have been amazed at what has happened and his consultant told him that this was something that medicine can’t explain.

It made me think about hope, that so often we can define ourselves and our situations by medical wisdom and knowledge, without leaving any room for the supernatural or miracles or something unexpected.

I know from years in medicine that surprising things do happen – people live longer than we expect, or symptoms of something nasty disappear.

We can easily take away any glimmer of hope for people by giving black and white answers based on what we can measure or see or touch, without allowing for other things that can influence. I think it is really important to be honest with people, based on information we have, but to somehow keep that hope alive as well.

In other countries people are very aware of the reality of the spiritual realm and they take it into account when seeking help for health problems.

I wonder why we are so reluctant to do that in the west?

Maybe it’s all about what we have been conditioned to believe or expect, what our culture has taught us to think.

Maybe we are frightened of things we don’t understand rationally.

There are many recorded miracles through history and there will always be mystery.

I wonder how much healthier we would be if we kept that hope alive and looked beyond ourselves.