Kate Granger #deathbedlive #hellomynameis

Going to try and keep this short. I’m struggling to find the words.

3 years, 10 months and 6 days ago, on 15 September 2012, I first tweeted about Kate Granger. I shared an article from The Scotsman, Dr Kate Granger, doctor and author living with terminal cancer I’d kept it open on my laptop for a couple of weeks, trying to find the best time to read it. My Dad, Bobby J, was terminally ill and clearly coming towards the end of his life. He died exactly two months to the day that I shared that tweet. Throughout Dad’s illness I’d tried to blog, to keep a record, to encourage discussion about death and dying, something of a niche blogging topic at the time.

It was in one of the early twitter exchanges that I had with her, and Quigs, that Kate shared her hope to make a difference:

Wow, what an understatement.

Since Kate has been diagnosed with cancer she has started many a conversation about death and dying, through talking about her desire to tweet #deathbedlive and being generally open about her own situation; she has written two books that share her experience and offer a brilliantly unique insight; in response to the low numbers of medical staff who took the time to introduce themselves to her during treatment she birthed #hellomynameis to encourage people to introduce themselves; and just today her and Chris, her rock of a husband, smashed their target to raise a quarter of a million for Yorkshire Cancer Centre. Oh and she was also made a Consultant and picked up a gong along the way.

Two years ago I met Kate, and many other twitter death peeps, at her Dying Matters lecture. I was very chuffed to have been invited and delighted to meet her, and hear her lecture. I’m such a fan girl.


I blogged about it here, and it includes a link to Kate and Chris’ film that really needs a watch if you’ve not seen it before – you’ll need tissues:

A few people spoke that evening, at Kate’s lecture. One of them, Philip, was incredibly brave – describing Kate as inspirational, a tag she clearly isn’t keen on.  The thing about Kate is she kinda is inspirational, but she’s also one of us. She is caring, and humble, and open, and honest, and selfless, and aware, and determined, and a great cake baker, and lots of other wonderful attributes. She also isn’t some sort of perfect, out of reach, terminally ill super hero(ine)! Kate is not afraid to admit that she is scared at times. She’s angry at times. She swears occasionally and has never been naive enough to believe that the ‘right attitude’ can ‘cure’ cancer, or she’ll live if she ‘fights’ hard enough.

In my opinion Kate is a total leader for a new way of living and dying. She has encouraged conversations that many people tell me they’ve spent years avoiding. Kate has a wicked sense of humour, she’s funny all the time. This comes across in her tweets, and her films and her interviews. She works with what she’s got.

I have only had the privilege of hugging Kate once. I know I won’t ever have another hug from her. I doubt I’ll ever get another tweet from her, or indeed see many more tweets from her. That’s totally OK though. I feel nothing but luck that our paths crossed, albeit mostly virtually.

Kate warned us back in May that she thought it was the beginning of the end:

I always wondered whether it would be practically possible for Kate to tweet from her death bed. Whether the human psyche can ever know, and accept in real time, that death is imminent. Whether Kate would have the energy, or wish to.

Kate tweeted yesterday apologising for the lack of #deathbedlive tweets:

An apology never needed. Kate has improved things for so many.

Just the idea of the #deathbedlive hashtag has made it more ok to talk about death.

Kate is inspirational and normal. She has always been in reach. She came into my life at was a fairly shit time for me, and she improved it. She made it ok to be me, to want to talk about death, to want to share. For that I am very grateful.

I know that I will never, ever forget her.


Read more about #deathbedlive in a Telegraph article here.

Visit #hellomynameis website here.

Donate to Kate’s page for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre here.

Buy Kate’s books The Other Side and The Bright Side here.

9 thoughts on “Kate Granger #deathbedlive #hellomynameis

  1. Great blog.x
    I met Kate when she had wrote her first book and was sat in the most horrible weather at Roundhay park.signing them,showing her true grit, her second book was my pull yourself together read and i have read it often.
    You are instantly drawn to her beautiful,kind,warm gentle personality.I have had the privilege of helping Kate and the Bright side Big bake ladies stall at The Yorkshire Cancer Centre.She truly is one very courageous,determined woman,wife and Dr.And yes,she has the most genuine hugs.We too will miss her. X

  2. Tissues needed, indeed. Thanks for this. I totally agree – I made the trip to an ed event in Sheffield a couple of years ago because she was speaking there after following/fangirling her on Twitter. She is as amazing in person and I know we all wish her peace and light in her final days.

  3. George, I do love your skill of turning words on a computer screen into feelings and a connection to some very difficult topics for people (sorry me) to grapple with. I hold you responsible for me downloading Kates book before a transatlantic trip. Suffice to say that the flight attendant commented on whether I had a bad eye allergy as tears were rolling down my face. Both you and Kate do have the courage to document honestly and humanly about the human condition. However further Kate has been able to make a a change and move the compass of health care to include sooo much humanness. Thank you for writing.

  4. Kate Granger has touched so many people, including me, all the way over here in Australia.
    I’ve followed her blog for about a year now, the honesty and warmth of her words, well, people instantly connect with her. I lost a sister-in-law last July to pancreatic cancer, I know she would have agreed with a lot of Kate’s words and feelings. It wasn’t a fair fight, I don’t think my SIL thought the words, “war” “fight” etc. were appropriate, to some degree I think she felt like a passenger, just hoping for the best, coping with everything it threw at her, emotionally and physically.
    Unlike Kate, my SIL did not have periods of relative wellness, she was very unwell for the 18 months from diagnosis to the end of her life, but thankfully, she had already ticked off quite a few things on her bucket list.

    My nephew says that one person can change the world, he’s right, look at what Dr. Kate Granger has achieved with her hellomynameis campaign, fundraising, and discussing uncomfortable end of life issues. (and baking, spending time with her family, enjoying music etc.)
    I’ve never met Kate Granger, but I’ve been touched by her, I suspect she’s touched a lot of people.
    My thoughts and warm wishes are with Kate, her family, friends and colleagues

  5. Reblogged this on Angela Bradshaw and commented:
    What a hugely inspirational lady, so special and leaving behind a wonderful lasting legacy helping us all to improve patient care and also to start being more open and honest with each other about taboo and sensitive subjects ❤

  6. Kate can have had no idea quite how many people worldwide that she touched with her bravery, humility ,courage and generosity. I never knew her or met her, nor did I correspond with her but I read all the Tweets avidly about her and Chris, always amazed at their energy and commitment as well as their selflessness in spending their precious time doing things for others without a thought for herself. Yes, I did heart her
    on many occasions, shyness preventing me from getting closer .I have been humbled by her,I hope that when my time comes I can be even a fraction as brave as she has been. Dear Kate, your troubles are over may you rest in everlasting peace. Xx

  7. Found this piece even more heartbreaking to read today as Kate died yesterday. You described her work so well and like you it has touched me deeply and personally as I have to live with knowing that my mother died an avoidable agonising, undignified death from cancer some 19 years ago, when my efforts to improve her care fell on deaf ears. I try now to use that experience and my own poor health to make a difference for those who have no opportunity or no-one to speak for them.

    Kate’s ‘Hello my name is’ campaign will be just one of her legacies in reminding health care professionals that their interactions with people are personal and human and not just ‘routine’- they really matter for good or ill and I want them to be for good.

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