Special Prayer Petition – Christmas Hope For Catholic Truth Blogger Diagnosed With Cancer

Special Prayer Petition – Christmas Hope For Catholic Truth Blogger Diagnosed With Cancer

Editor writes…

Back in November, to mark the Feast of the Miraculous Medal, I posted a thread seeking prayers for a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. At that time, this friend did not want to be named, but has now given permission to do so, with an update on his condition and treatment.

I’m sure you will all be concerned to discover that the cancer patient is Martin Blackshaw, aka our first class blogger, Athanasius.

Here’s Martin’s email to me this morning, for publication here…

It’s a small tumour located only on the left larynx and the specialists are therefore confident of a cure, although the Radiation Therapy (RT)  will cause weeks of painful side effects. With cancer, though, nothing is guaranteed. The hardest part so far has been breaking my smoking addiction. I’m now 4 days without a cigarette and climbing the walls!! Extra prayers will be most welcome.

We are continuing to seek the miracle requested on the Feast of the Miraculous Medal and I am sure we’ll all remember to pray for Martin at Mass over Christmas, not least on visits to the crib scene in our churches. Our Lady of Lourdes, Health of the Sick, pray for Martin! 

I’ll post the usual Christmas greetings thread in time for tomorrow’s Feast, but in the meantime, the above carol reminds us of the hope which Christ’s coming into the world brings to us all and which will, no doubt, encourage Martin to continue in his truly Christian prayers for delivery from this cancer, while, at the same time, being resigned to God’s holy will. I’m sure our blogging community will want to promise their own prayers of petition for Martin’s intention.  Our Lady of Lourdes, Health of the Sick, pray for Martin! 

Comments (49)

  • Lily

    I’m really taken aback to discover that the cancer sufferer we’ve been praying for is Athanasius. Without a moment’s hesitation, I pledge my prayers over Christmas for his intentions, especially his restoration to full health, a miracle cure..

    December 24, 2021 at 1:09 pm
    • Athanasius

      Thank you, Lily, and God bless you.

      December 24, 2021 at 6:45 pm
  • patlangan51

    Two friends of mine had throat cancer and fully recovered! One was treated in the Beatson, Gartnavel through chemo and radiography. He, in a relatively short period of time fully recovered and is now enjoying a pint and a fag! Deo Gratias!

    December 24, 2021 at 1:29 pm
    • Athanasius


      I’m quietly confident about the cure but not so sure I’ll ever smoke again. I was told that Laryngeal cancer is almost exclusively a smoker’s cancer and there’s a very high chance it could return if I smoke again. I think the wee chimney on my head will have to be sealed up permanently!!

      December 24, 2021 at 6:47 pm
      • RCAVictor


        You’ll have to promise your blogger friends that in the future, the only time you will smoke is when you’re on fire!

        December 25, 2021 at 2:27 pm
      • Athanasius


        That wouldn’t do at all, I’m afraid, as I catch fire everytime I see or hear our “great leaders” on TV. Well I don’t catch fire as such, it’s more a smoke like vapour that comes from my ears!!

        December 25, 2021 at 4:28 pm
  • Faith of Our Fathers

    God Bless You Martin I know for one thing Lack of Faith will not fail you .
    The Smoking is Hard to Give up so is The Bevvy.
    Speaking with Experience on Both.
    Take Care . James. D.

    December 24, 2021 at 2:04 pm
  • Josephine

    My most sincere good wishes and prayers for Athanasius as he goes through his treatment programme. His attitude of resignation bodes well, and I’m sure he’ll be granted a reprieve to defend the faith for many more years on this blog!

    December 24, 2021 at 2:32 pm
    • mary

      Seconded. Athanasius you’re needed to be around for us.

      December 24, 2021 at 11:44 pm
    • Athanasius

      Josephine and Mary

      You’re both very kind. I’m also hoping to be around for a while yet, though that’s in God’s hands. As for the writing, there are many good writers around. I happen to think that RCA Victor and Editor are much better writers. And now I’m hoping to receive a pay increase from the latter!!

      December 25, 2021 at 3:19 am
      • editor


        By putting RCA Victor’s name first, and my humble self second in your comment at 3.19am, you have confirmed my belief that I am not a loser, just an alternative winner 😀

        December 25, 2021 at 6:34 am
      • RCAVictor


        If that pay increase doesn’t appear, just let me know: I’ll acquire a controlling share of Editor’s stock and see to your raise myself!

        December 25, 2021 at 2:31 pm
      • Athanasius


        I’m left handed, that should explain all!


        I’m good with that, but only if she sells to you rather than Bill Gates!

        December 25, 2021 at 4:34 pm
  • gabriel syme

    Athanasius / Martin,

    Please be assured of the prayers of myself and my family for a good and quick recovery.

    And we will also pray that you manage to maintain your cigarette abstinence – as someone who used to smoke myself, I know how difficult that can be!

    I am pleased to hear that the prognosis is good and hope that this brings some comfort and will allow you to enjoy the Christmas period as much as possible.

    You probably know that St Peregrine is the Patron Saint of cancer sufferers. This link offers a choice of 3 novenas to him, to ask for a cure from cancer:


    Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Take care!

    December 24, 2021 at 2:51 pm
    • Athanasius

      Gabriel Syme

      Thank you for the all-important promise of prayers and for the novena links to St. Peregrine. Of course you do realise that I’ve been burning St. Peregrine’s ears for about 5 weeks now! I didn’t have a novena prayer as such, so thanks for those 3 options.

      December 24, 2021 at 6:53 pm
  • Athanasius

    I’m not long in from my daily radiotherapy visit to Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital – the visits are every weekday for 6 weeks and I’m actually getting addicted to being nuked! I was just joking with the nurses this morning that I have several chocolate moments in my day and now I can cite one Chernobyl moment as well. They did laugh quite heartily.

    I want to thank all of you for your charity, your prayers are invaluable to me and I have felt the strength of people’s prayers right from the beginning. The tumour in question is very small and is located on the left larynx – there’s no spread to lymph nodes, lungs or chest. I was surprised by this as I’ve had the hoarseness of voice for around 9 months. I couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment over that period due to COVID restrictions – kept getting people called “clinicians” on the phone telling me I had rhinitus and prescribing me antihistimines and steroid nasal sprays. By the time I finally got to the CT scan stage I felt sure the cancer must have spread to other areas. It hadn’t! That, for me, is already a miracle from God. The upshot of it all is that the specialist reckons they can cure this with 6 weeks of radiotherapy, though he cautions that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to cancer.

    I’m reliably informed that over the next few weeks things are going to get very uncomfortable for me. The side effects of RT build up in and around the throat will cause everything to swell up and there will be a lot of radiation burn around the neck and chest. Everyone reacts differently to the side effects but in general there’s almost complete loss of voice, loss of taste, badly swollen throat and a few other delights!

    God is indeed good, He never permits these trials unless for the good, even with weak vessels like me. If I can just attain to that genuine spirit of sacrifice, offering all of this minor inconvenience to Our Lord in reparation for so many outrages committed against Him, then the experience will be a happy one. That’s where your prayers come in most of all, to obtain for me the grace to see this through with that real Catholic spirit of offering all to Our Blessed Lord.

    I have to add that as I write I feel absolutely great, no ill health whatsoever. In fact, I’ve never felt ill with this. Can’t say the same about the nicotine withdrawal, though. I’d sell my granny into slavery right now for a smoke!!!

    God bless you all for your kind thoughts and prayers.

    December 24, 2021 at 3:19 pm
  • Theresa Rose

    I will keep Athanasius in my prayers through Christmas and beyond for a good and quick recovery.

    And as Gabriel Syme says I will also pray that you manage your cigarette abstinence. I remember my parents both smoked cigarettes too before overcoming the habit. If they could then you can with the help of all our prayers.

    December 24, 2021 at 3:20 pm
    • Athanasius

      Theresa Rose

      Thank you for your kind promise of prayers for a quick recovery. I’m sure I will break the smoking habit if I just resist long enough for the physical addiction to go, which I think is about a week. I’m now 4 days off and I do think the craving has lessened slightly. The first day was the worst – I could have ended up in a rubber room!

      December 24, 2021 at 6:49 pm
  • Anonymous

    Comment deleted – idiocy writ large.

    December 24, 2021 at 4:13 pm
  • RCAVictor

    Martin, I’m adding you to my daily Rosary intentions!

    December 24, 2021 at 4:43 pm
    • Athanasius


      I always know I can count on your prayers – just hope you’re still reciting 100 rosaries per day!

      December 24, 2021 at 6:44 pm
  • Michael Brady

    I shall add you to my daily recitation of the Divine Office along with my daily Rosary intentions.
    In Christ

    December 24, 2021 at 5:46 pm
    • Athanasius

      Michael Brady

      God bless you.

      December 24, 2021 at 6:42 pm
  • Catherine


    Be assured of prayers in our family rosary too.

    December 24, 2021 at 6:26 pm
    • Athanasius

      Thank you, Catherine, I really appreciate that.

      December 24, 2021 at 6:43 pm
  • Athanasius


    I thought I should just post a word or two of thanks to you also for your own promise of prayers and your great support throughout. God bless you.

    December 24, 2021 at 8:32 pm
    • editor


      My pleasure – since the cheque arrived 😀

      December 24, 2021 at 8:44 pm
      • Athanasius


        Glad you received it. They say these rubber cheques are so much more flexible!

        December 24, 2021 at 9:10 pm
  • Elizabeth

    Athanasius, so sorry to hear this news. You will be very specially in my prayers and I hope you still manage to have a happy Christmas. Those wishes to all bloggers and editor of course.

    December 24, 2021 at 10:05 pm
    • Athanasius


      Thank you for your kind words. I assure you I will not let this issue get in the way of Christmas – he says with a big bib around his neck and huge bar of Dairy Milk melting between his fingers!!!

      No, I am not giving this illness a second thought. I feel perfectly healthy and I’ll take whatever temporary side effects come my way down the line. No point in worrying about these things, it doesn’t do any good, so we bite the bullet and get on with life. The doctors have given me a good prognosis – they’re very optimistic.

      God bless you.

      December 25, 2021 at 3:13 am
      • Warydoom


        I’m so sorry to hear of your diagnosis but you seem quite positive, which implies to me that you’ll have a chance of beating the illness, and I certainly hope you will.

        Anyway, I’ve asked the Aid to the Church in Need to have a TLM said for your intentions.

        December 25, 2021 at 8:29 am
      • Athanasius


        The greatest gift anyone can receive at Christmas, or indeed at any time of the year, is a holy Mass for their intentions. I can’t thank you enough for that priceless gift and I will ask Our Lord to reward you for your charity.

        December 25, 2021 at 11:48 am
  • Warydoom


    Thank you for your prayers – God knows I need them!

    It’s my pleasure, and the fact you’re so appreciative and love the Mass as much as you do, makes the offering all the more special. I think you’ll get through your purgatory here on Earth.

    December 25, 2021 at 11:57 am
    • Athanasius


      Truth is, we all need prayers, and many of them. I would love to think this present little suffering would cover my purgatory but I’ve been reading enough books on the lives of the saints and what they suffered on earth to disabuse myself of that comforting thought! Still, I’m not aiming for purgatory in case I miss the target!!

      Your comment brought to mind a rather humorous memory, though, from the life of St. Theresa of Avila (I think?) I paraphrase of course but she complained gently to Our Lord following a series of trials saying “if this is how you treat your friends, Lord, it’s little wonder you have so few of them”. Maybe my memory of the story is wrong so if anyone can confirm or correct I’d be grateful.

      December 25, 2021 at 4:45 pm
  • Frankier


    I have included: was it Joseph?, in my daily prayers to St Peregrine along with all the other sufferers I know but I am sorry to see that it is yourself.

    I have just purchased a Miraculous Medal, still to be blessed, for my young niece who is suffering also from this illness.

    I use my phone for my prayers, where a few novenas to St Peregrine can be accessed.

    All the best for the coming year.

    December 25, 2021 at 1:09 pm
    • Athanasius


      Many thanks for that promise of prayers. My actual name is Martin Joseph but don’t worry about it, St. Peregrine knows me well!

      I will keep your niece in my prayers also. It saddens me when the young get cancer – reminds me of my sister who died at age 28 from Leukaemia. When I was at the Western for my daily treatment I saw a man carrying his little daughter on his shoulders. She was only about 4 or 5 years old but it was obvious the wee soul was being treated for cancer of some sort. Rather puts my situation into perspective.

      December 25, 2021 at 4:52 pm
  • Marinaio

    Merry Christmas, Martin; please accept our most sincere wishes to you and your family for a happy, healthy, and holy New Year as well. Be assured that we are keeping you in our prayers. We are confident that you will, indeed, fully recover. We look forward to many, many more articles and comments from the pen of Athanasius. God bless you and keep you.

    December 25, 2021 at 2:39 pm
    • Athanasius


      I wish the same blessings from heaven for you and yours. Thank you for your kind prayers and be assured that I share your confidence that I will fully recover, a confidence the doctors likewise share. I can say that I feel great right now, no symptoms of illness whatsoever. I am a very lucky person to have have enjoyed good health all through my life, even though, as Editor will confirm, I am barely past my 21st year!!

      December 25, 2021 at 4:57 pm
  • westminsterfly

    Prayers assured. Don’t worry about the smoking – I gave up in 2001 and just went through cold turkey for a week – no nicotine supplements as I think they just prolong the agony – and then it’s over. It seems like a mountain before you give up, but when you look back, it was just a molehill. And if I can do it – he who has little or no willpower, I’m sure you can! God bless you,

    December 26, 2021 at 12:17 pm
    • Athanasius


      I’m very grateful for both the prayers and the smoking advice. I’ve now gone 6 days without a cigarette, though not without nicotine substitute!! I think I’ll get there in the end but it’s a struggle right now. I don’t suppose you’d be interested in buying an old granny for general housework in return for a packet of ciggies!!!!!!!!!

      December 26, 2021 at 1:36 pm
  • westminsterfly

    LOL! Actually, I’m glad I don’t smoke any more. Someone told me they’re about £12.50 for a pack of 20 now!!!!! I think they were about £5 when I gave up. And being as I was a 20 a day man (on a good day) I certainly couldn’t afford it now. I must confess that I gave up before 2001 – several years before, and I found it a struggle to give up then, probably because I was surrounded by smokers all the time. I gave up for about 5 years then caved in again at a dinner party after a couple of glasses of wine, and struggled again for about two years, stopping and starting, until I finally and irrevocably gave up in 2001. Because I hardly know anyone who smokes now, it’s not a problem because I so rarely encounter it. But even if I am among smokers, I’m not in the least tempted. You will get to that happy state, and you have more reason to get there a.s.a.p. so that should give your effort extra impetus. Remember the Fatima seers offering up all their sufferings: “O Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, in reparation for the offences committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the Holy Father”.

    December 26, 2021 at 2:21 pm
    • Athanasius


      Yes, you’re right about the price, the average pack of 20 these days in between £10 – £12. I found out recently that at least £7 of that cost is treasury tax, which is why they keep banging on about smoking being so bad for everyone. If it was that dangerous then they should shut down the tobacco industry instead of making grossly criminal amounts of money in taxation from it.

      Anyway, I’m now six days without a cigarette and doing ok. I have lost the desire to kill, which was prevalent for the first 2 days, although I really did want to kill certain persons this morning when I noticed the candles lit on our altar for yet another sung Mass. The lengths some people will go to in order to appear important in the eyes of others!! I feel as if I haven’t been to Mass today, couldn’t concentrate on a single prayer for the constant distraction. Yes, I need to work hard on my charity!

      December 26, 2021 at 6:14 pm
  • Tommy

    I will Add my prayers for Martin.

    December 26, 2021 at 6:40 pm
    • Athanasius

      Thank you, Tommy, and God bless you.

      December 26, 2021 at 9:33 pm
    • editor


      Maybe you could throw in a donation when you’re finished praying. Allow me to explain…

      Dear old Athanasius manages the collection at our church on Sundays, and this morning he spread the word ahead of time that today’s money would be going to the Martin Blackshaw Foundation Fund 😀

      Just sayin’

      December 26, 2021 at 10:18 pm
      • Athanasius


        What you didn’t say is that you’re on 10% commission!!

        December 27, 2021 at 3:12 am
  • Michelangelo

    Please be assured of my prayers Athanasius!

    January 1, 2022 at 7:15 pm
    • Athanasius


      Your prayers are gratefully appreciated. Thank you and God bless you.

      January 1, 2022 at 10:00 pm
  • crofterlady

    Athanasius, I’m truly sorry to hear about your illness and I’ll pray for you every day. I used to smoke 40 to 50 cigarettes a day and I eventually gave up 32 years ago. It was the hardest thing I ever did! I didn’t take any nicorette thingies and just went cold turkey. I did a lot of walking and swimming and kept very busy. It took about 2 weeks for the craving to completely cease and then I never looked backed. Today, I cannot believe that I ever smoked!

    January 5, 2022 at 4:13 pm

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