"Unique" and "inspiring". These were two of the words used to describe the Pause for Hope service that took place at the Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday 11 September.
This was the 18th year of Pause for Hope and some 400 people congregated inside the Cathedral for the 2016 service, led by Bishop Tom Williams, the Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool, along with Rev Dr Crispin Pailing, the Anglican Rector of Liverpool, and Baptist Minister Rev Phil Jump.
Professor Ray Donnelly, founder and president of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, established Pause for Hope in 1999 and he noted the support the service received from all the main cancer charities in Liverpool, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, North West Cancer Research, the Linda McCartney Centre, the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, St Joseph's Hospice and the Lyndale Cancer Support Centre.
"It's quite unique to bring different cancer charities together for any reason but it's especially inspiring to see them come together in prayer," he said. The aim of Pause for Hope is to ease through prayer the impact of cancer on individuals and the community, and to pray that the day will quickly come when all cancers can be prevented or cured.
The main speaker at the service was Professor Chris Holcombe, senior breast cancer surgeon at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Professor Holcombe reflected on why he became a doctor and how his faith had influenced his work. He spoke also about his admiration for patients undergoing cancer surgery and how they inspired him.
Patients, carers, doctors, nurses, scientists and those responsible for allocating and managing resources were all involved in the service. There was also music from the Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust (BOST) and from Dave Flynn and his daughters Danielle and Emily, who sang as the congregation took lighted candles and placed them in front of the altar in memory of a loved one or for a personal intention.
Pause for Hope services are held annually in Liverpool, Chester, Manchester and Glasgow, with a new service planned for Birmingham in March next year.
Professor Donnelly added: "The service takes care of a real need experienced by people diagnosed with cancer as well as their families and carers. It helps them to support each other in a prayerful and meaningful way, to see their situation in relation to God's will for them, to lift their spirits and to give them hope. It's also an opportunity to pray together that the day will quickly come when all cancers can be prevented or cured. The harder we pray, the sooner that day will come."