Kate Granger’s story
Doctor and writer Kate Granger was the focus of the second ever Dying Matters Annual Lecture on Monday 18 May, marking the beginning of Dying Matters Awareness week 2014.
Kate, a Specialist Registrar in Geriatric Medicine, has incurable cancer. After five gruelling rounds of chemotherapy following her diagnosis with a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma in July 2011, Kate decided to stop receiving treatment and concentrate on enjoying a good quality of life.
Since then, she has written two books, and blogs and tweets extensively about living with cancer and, in particular, her experiences as a patient. She has also launched the “hello my name is” campaign after becoming frustrated by the number of medical staff who failed to introduce themselves to her when she was being treated. The campaign has been endorsed by several senior nurses at NHS England, including chief nursing officer Jane Cummings and Head of Commissioning Michelle Mello.
The lecture ‘You Only Die Once: Kate Granger’s story' took place at the Royal College of Physicians in London. As part of the event, Dying Matters commissioned a film of Kate and her husband, Chris, who also spoke at the event.
Watch Kate's Story
Kate told Monday night's audience that she and Chris had spent "two days laying ourselves totally open emotionally to make this". Reaction to the film has been phenomenal: it had received more than 5,000 views within five days of its launch, and many people had taked to Twitter share their feelings about it.
Host for the lecture was BBC Social Affairs Correspondent Alison Holt, who told the audience that when her mother died during the school summer holidays, not one member of staff acknowledged her devastating loss when she returned to school. Other speakers included Dr Fiona Hicks, consultant in palliative medicine, Leeds Teaching Hospitals; Dr Philip Pearson, consultant respiratory physician; and Dr Frank Phelan, consultant elderly/general medicine. Poet and comedian Kate Fox, who had not met Kate before the event but had been inspired to write a poem after reading about her, shared a warm, funny and unsentimental ode to Kate.
Kate's work has seen her acquire many accolades, and at the lecture she was awarded another: Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, making her the youngest ever Fellow in the college's history. But perhaps the changes Kate leaves behind means more to her than the honours she receives now. "I want my legacy to be a better NHS," she told the audience, "One which considers patients as people and not just diseases or conditions."
'You Only Die Once: Kate Granger’s story' was produced by FlixFilms, who have made several films for the Dying Matters Coalition, including 'I Didn't Want That' and 'Dying to Know', both of which were selected for the Cannes Film Festival.
The Dying Matters Coalition would like to thank the Royal College of Physicians for their support and funding which has enabled the lecture to happen.
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Follow Kate on Twitter at @GrangerKate