Woman battling terminal cancer to be ordained and says ‘I am in God’s hands’

Jeannette Hayward
Jeannette Hayward
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SHE does not know how long she has left to live but Jeannette Hayward is determined to spend her remaining time helping others by becoming a reverend.

The 61-year-old is being ordained this Saturday by the Bishop Christopher Foster, along with eight others.

My prognosis is I’m dying, it’s terminal cancer. But I’m at peace.

Jeannette Hayward

The grandmother has spent the past three years training to be a deacon.

But it has not been an easy journey for Jeannette who has been battling terminal cancer while completing her training.

She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007 which has since spread to her lungs and become inoperable.

Despite this, she is looking forward to the future and being part of the Church.

Jeannette, from Southsea, said: ‘I am very excited for Saturday. It is an honour and a privilege to be ordained. It has been a really humbling experience, one that I didn’t think I would be able to do.

‘I knew it was academic and thought I couldn’t do it because of my dyslexia. But I was listening to a vicar giving a sermon and heard God telling me I could do it. It came just when I needed it.’

Jeannette is excited about becoming a deacon for St Jude’s Church, in Southsea, and is not letting her illness get her down.

She added: ‘My prognosis is I’m dying, it’s terminal cancer. But I’m at peace.

‘I’m in God’s hands. I said to God: “If I’m dying, give me the grace to die well”. and he replied “No, I am going to heal you”.’

Jeannette was born in Kenya and, when the country declared independence, her family moved to Portsmouth.

She joined St Jude’s Church through its youth group and went on to marry her husband Steve and have three children.

But money was always a struggle and Jeannette was diagnosed with clinical depression in her mid-40s. For 16 years, Jeannette worked as pastoral care co-ordinator at St Jude’s before having to step down because of her health.

Jeannette said her life experiences, and having to cope with cancer makes her relatable to her congregation.

She added: ‘I believe everything I have been through will help make me a better deacon. I understand what people are going through and will be able to share my experiences.

‘I’ve prayed with a lot of people who are dying. It’s awful for those left behind, the pain of separation.

‘But God is loving and can heal the past. He doesn’t change it but he can heal it. I believe in miracles of course.’