You Only Die Once: Kate Granger’s story  

Kate, a specialist registrar in geriatric medicine, has a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma (bone cancer). In this video Kate and her husband Chris discuss their situation with honesty, humour and pragmatism. The video was produced by FlixFilms for the Dying Matters coalition, which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life.

Learn more about bone cancer

Transcript of You Only Die Once: Kate Granger’s story

DYING MATTERS LET'S TALK ABOUT IT

WWW.DYINGMATTERS.ORG

Hello, my name is Kate.

And I live with my husband Chris in Wakefield.

I'm a 32-year-old elderly medicine registrar,

working in Yorkshire in the UK.

There's nothing unusual about that, really.

But I'm also a cancer patient,

a terminally ill one with a very rare and aggressive form of sarcoma.

On my blog, I muse about current issues.

Especially relating to end of life care...

"END OF LIFE CARE"

..communication and patient centredness.

"COMMUNICATION" "PATIENT CENTREDNESS"

I also write about my experiences as I approach the end of my life.

"MY EXPERIENCES"

I'D RATHER BE BAKING

Kate and I met in a nightclub in Huddersfield, of all places.

We've been together ever since.

Kate was first diagnosed two-and-a-half years ago now.

At the stage of our lives that were at, it really was quite a bombshell.

We'd both got successful careers,

we were just about starting to plan a family.

You just don't expect it in your late twenties, early thirties,

that you're going to have to deal with something like this.

As a doctor, I was a lot more familiar with death.

Breaking bad news is something that happens all the time in a hospital.

And we do it, and we go home and we carry on living our lives as doctors.

Once I had had that news myself,

I think I'd started to realise the impact on that person.

And that when you go home as a doctor,

you leave that person with that news and they have to live it.

All I wanted when I was first diagnosed was to be treated normally.

Just to be treated as Kate.

(Chris) We are just a normal couple at the end the day, whatever normal is.

I like to call it a gremlin that sits on our shoulders

and gives us a little poke now and again.

In the beginning, I really quite enjoyed making people feel uncomfortable

about my attitude towards death and dying and talking about it openly.

You can't tell people how to feel about a topic.

You can't enforce a particular view.

But you can suggest another way of thinking about things.

One way I'm trying is by using social media.

I love Twitter.

I think it's a massive community of support out there

that you can access day and night.

I think Chris thinks I'm a little bit addicted.

KATIE GRANGER MAY 30

MY 1ST EVER TWEET! RADIO LEEDS 2PM TODAY, ME!!

KATIE GRANGER DEC17 JOKE FROM LAST NIGHT...

DEFINITION OF TERMINAL ILLNESS: GETTING SICK AT AN AIRPORT

Having cancer? There's loads of positives(!)

It's brilliant(!)

No, no, there are. I can talk about positives.

I just need to look like I'm not dying. (laughter)

I think humour's a great tool to facilitate openness.

And I think I've always had a dark sense of humour.

I think it goes with being a doctor.

Probably my favourite joke around me dying belongs to my mum.

And she bought me a very expensive handbag.

When I said, "Mum, you really shouldn't have spent so much money on me",

she said, " Well, it doesn't really matter, does it?"

"Cos you don't need your inheritance, do you?"

Chris pulled a good one a few months ago when he said...

I asked if I could have another cake, or whether it would be too fat.

And he said "No, it doesn't really matter cos you're dying." (laughs)

- Did you have another one? - Yeah. (laughs)

DEAR CANCER PART 3 POSTED ON MARCH 15 2014

DEAR CANCER, WELL, IT HAS BEEN A FEW MONTHS

SINCE WE WERE LAST IN CORRESPONDENCE

AND GIVEN THIS PAST WEEK'S EVENTS I THOUGHT IT WAS

AN OPPORTUNE MOMENT TO PUT PEN TO PAPER AGAIN.

Writing is something that's part of my life now. It never was before.

I never intended to share my illness.

In fact, when I was first diagnosed, I was really private about it.

I didn't even tell everyone on Facebook until maybe about

eight or nine weeks into what was happening.

Then I started keeping a diary... about what was happening

and reflections on my care

and the relationships that I was building with my doctors

and the people looking after me.

INSPIRING PEOPLE: KATE GRANGER - ONE DOCTOR'S JOURNEY AS A

PATIENT COMING TO TERMS WITH A TERMINAL CANCER DIAGNOSIS.

DON'T MISS: TERMINALLY ILL DR KATE GRANGER DETERMINED TO TWEET

FROM DEATHBED TO ENCOURAGE DIALOGUE ABOUT DEATH.

KATE GRANGER JAN 6 TWEET 5000.

I LOVE MY FAMILY & FRIENDS. NO IDEA WHERE I'D BE WITHOUT THEM.

CANNOT EXPLAIN THE GUILT I FEEL ABOUT LEAVING THEIR LIVES EARLY...

Having a plan that sets out where you'd like to be, what you'd like to happen,

it's reassuring to a family.

Planning in end of life care is a very fluid, very dynamic process

that can change every week.

It can change every day.

It could change every hour towards the end.

I know exactly how she wants everything to be.

So I need to make sure that nothing's overruled by anybody

based on what they think.

Rightly or wrongly, people might not agree with that decision.

But that's the decision that Kate wants adhering to,

and I have to make sure that that's done.

KATE GRANGER AUG 16

I WOULD LIKE TO DIE TO THE LARK ASCENDING PLEASE.

IT WAS SPINE TINGLINGLY WONDERFUL.

KATE GRANGER AUG 16

TALKED ABOUT MY FEARS AND PLANS TODAY TOO.

IT'S REALLY TOUGH TO TALK ABOUT THIS STUFF

BUT I THINK IT HELPED TO SETTLE MY EMOTIONAL STATE.

(Kate) A death plan is almost like a birth plan,

you have to be willing that things may go wrong along the way

and you may not get your wishes.

If you don't have to plan at all,

then you're definitely not going to get your wishes.

The time is going to come when I am going to be on my deathbed.

And Deathbed Live is going to come into play.

What I'd like from that time is a time with my family and friends.

Kind of shut off from the outside world in a lot of ways.

We decided that, instead of dying here, I'm going to go to my mum and dad's...

..to give Chris more support...

..and a bit more emotional and physical help with me.

I'd like to have enough pain relief to be... not in pain,

but I don't want to be sedated.

And strange how it sounds, I've picked my music.

And my candles.

And the books I'd like my mum to read to me.

And I hope that my... vision of a fairly serene...

..peaceful death is achieved.

But I know from past experience that may not be the case.

But at least I'll have some lovely music.

KATE GRANGER AUG 1 IT IS NOT A FIGHT. IT IS NOT A BATTLE.

IT IS A JOURNEY WHICH SOMETIMES ENDS IN DEATH

OR CONTINUES FOREVER WITH SURVIVAL #COPINGWITHTHEBIGC

I think cancer's something that happens to human beings,

it's something that happens to all living organisms.

If you've got cells that divide,

sometimes that process goes wrong and the result's cancer.

That cancer can be cured in many cases.

And in some cases, it can't.

Putting the blame onto... onto that incurability,

onto the people with that incurable cancer is just not right.

And it shouldn't happen.

Cancer is something that you live with, that you cope with.

And you learn to get along with.

And you never know what's around the corner.

I should have been dead at least a year ago, and I'm not.

KATE GRANGER JUL 28 IT'S MY 2 YEAR CANCERVERSARY TODAY.

IT'S TAKEN A WHILE BUT WE ARE LEARNING TO

GET ALONG WITH EACH OTHER JUST FINE... NORMALITY/HUMOUR/BAKING

I think it was challenging for everyone

to come across somebody young who was dying,

who could talk about it

without usual societal constraints.

I think we don't talk about it in Britain because of our stiff upper lip.

I think within other cultures,

death is seen as a much more positive thing to be celebrated, almost.

And I think if our culture were to adopt a similar strategy,

then a lot of the issues we'd have in healthcare,

where problems arise in end of life care, wouldn't arise.

I think you just have to get on and do it.

Charities like Dying Matters are very important in raising the profile

of these conversations and opening up channels of communication.

She's already made funeral plans.

She's put them in a box, I know where they are

So that,at that time, we can just get those out and go through the motions.

(Kate) We've had conversations about how Chris is going to cope,

once I've died and what he might do with his career and things like that.

And those conversations are difficult to have and we both get upset at times.

But I think, by being open about it, we're both more comfortable

in our own skins, living the life that we're living.

KATE GRANGER SEP 7 CHRIS: MY BIGGEST FEAR

IS THAT ONE DAY WHEN YOU'RE GONE I'LL FORGET WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE

& WHAT YOUR VOICE SOUNDS LIKE... #HEARTBREAKING

Having a terminal cancer diagnosis

has definitely changed my perspective on life.

I appreciate small things in life lot more than I ever did before.

So seeing the cherry blossom because I might not see it again.

And... just spending time with my friends and family,

watching my nephew grow up, those things are really important.

There's been some really, really low points in that journey,

both from an illness perspective and from a family perspective,

but then there's also been some extreme high points,

which I don't feel many people experience in their whole lifetimes.

My particular journey's led me down...

paths to Buckingham Palace,

to all sorts of awards and accolades

that I never would have achieved without having cancer.

KATE GRANGER JUN 30 DREAMING UP NEXT CHALLENGE NOW...

In order to stimulate a change in society,

I think you almost have to shock.

I think that's the society that we live in.

I think that's how people stop and think,

and I guess that's the power of some of the work I've been doing.

#HELLOMYNAMEIS

Hellomynameis was born out of a hospital experience last year.

It's about building a connection,

about starting a relationship.

One of the ideas we came up with, which I think I actually come up with,

but Kate will take more of the glory for this, was...

(Kate) #Hellomynameis.

#HELLO MY NAME IS...

# A SIMPLE CAMPAIGN TO ENCOURAGE AND INSPIRE EVERY

HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL IN THE UK TO INTRODUCE THEMSELVES TO

EVERY PATIENT THEY MEET.

IT IS ABOUT MUCH MORE THAN COMMON COURTESY

BUT RATHER HUMAN CONNECTIONS,

ESTABLISHING THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIPS

AND BUILDING TRUST.

We presented at the NHS Care and Innovation Expo.

And I think until that point, Chris hadn't really realised

how much of an impact it had had on so many people.

Until he realised what a celebrity his wife had become.

(Chris) It's spread like wildfire. It's gone national, international.

DAVID NICHOLSON FEB 2

THANKS FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING FOR NHS #HELLOMYNAMEIS

HELEN BEVAN FEB 25

MORE THAN 2,000 PEOPLE HAVE JOINED THE #HELLOMYNAMEIS

CAMPAIGN OF @GRANGERKATE FOR #NHSCHANGEDAY

WILL YOU JOIN TOO?

WEST SUFFOLK NHS FT APR 24

ON WARD F6 THIS MORNING WITH MEDICAL DIRECTOR @DERMOTOR

& SPREADING THE WORD ABOUT OUR LOCAL #HELLOMYNAMEIS CAMPAIGN

KATE GRANGER MAR 2 IT'S #NHSCHANGEDAY

& NEARLY 1/3 OF MILLION PEOPLE HAVE PLEDGED!!!

STILL TIME TO JOIN MY #HELLOMYNAMEIS CAMPAIGN

I am clearly having an impact on other people's lives,

but yeah, I just see myself as a normal girl

going about her daily business.

(Chris) Kate's work will continue... through various people, me included,

well into the future.

And #hellomynameis will be a big part of that.

But there's more than just that, it's her inspiration and courage to others.

Whatever the future may bring for both of us,

we've got to be blessed that we've had that time together

be it ten years, be it 50 years, we've had that time.

And not everybody in life is as fortunate as what we have been

to have that time.

(Kate) I'd like... my main legacy

to be a better NHS.

That considers patients as people,

not just diseases...

..or conditions.

And I hope I've managed to achieve that a little bit

by making people stop and think about how they communicate with people.

KATE GRANGER OCT 20

I HAVE BEEN UTTERLY OVERWHELMED BY ALL THE

LOVELY MESSAGES OF SUPPORT. YOU ARE TRULY LOVELY xxx

#HELLO MY NAME IS...

DYING MATTERS LET'S TALK ABOUT IT

WWW.DYINGMATTERS.ORG

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