Cancer Takes Another Life

I’ve just heard that Dr Kate Granger died yesterday, at the age of 34.

I first ‘spoke’ to Kate over twitter a couple of months before Mum died. I’d seen her floating about on Twitter a while before then. I knew she was being treated in Leeds, and had asked Mum if she knew her (a high probability given that there were just 3 consultants in Mum’s palliative medicine team). Mum said that she’d seen her around, fundraising and things… or something along those lines.

Kate contacted me last April, after I started blogging about Mum’s illness, saying:

Im so sorry to hear about your Mum. She helped me through some very tough times…

In fact Im really missing her support now & I almost feel disloyal for seeing another pall care cons.

I had no idea Mum had treated her and when I mentioned it to Mum, Mum brought up the whole doctor-patient confidentiality thing which I’d forgotten… I later read Kate’s books and, though Mum wasn’t mentioned by name, with the knowledge that Mum was her consultant at times, I could sometimes see the Mum I knew coming through.

She then contacted me again a week before Mum died:

Dear Naomi, reading your latest blog was heartbreaking… Just wanted to let you know Im thinking of you and your mum. K xxx

We had a short conversation. She asked me to pass on to Mum that she was still defying the odds and was in their thoughts. Mum wasn’t particularly responsive at the time, but I told her and she smiled.

After Mum died, she messaged me again:

Oh I’m so sorry to hear that Naomi. Thank you so much for letting me know. She was a fab woman your Mum. Never forget that. Huge hugs & love to you & your family xxx

And then, later on:

Have been with my girlfriends today – not something we manage as often as we should. We were planning our Christmas get together – an unexpected event for me – but found myself stopping & thinking about you & your Mum. How tough Christmas will be… Your blog is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for speaking out about dying & grieving so eloquently. Thoughts are with you xxx

I know that Kate caused waves in some of the work she did. I know that some medics weren’t always happy with the way she tweeted things, or what she wrote. I also know she raised a huge amount of money for charity, got people talking about death and end of life care, and highlighted the importance of clinicians introducing themselves (#hellomynameis).

Hearing of her death is upsetting. For me, it is another link to Mum which has been lost. But from a wider perspective – it’s another life lost to cancer. Another person who’s life has been cut short due to this horrible illness. Another grieving family who are left to make sense of the nonsensical. I hope that they can take comfort in the fact that Kate was loved by many, and that she made a difference.

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