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