you only die once

This article comes from Dying Matters, a UK  campaign to promote awareness of dying, death and bereavement. It promotes understanding of death as a natural part of the life cycle- not a subject to be avoided or ignored, not ‘awkward to mention’ or ‘best avoided’.  It encourages discussion and the development of death plans, so that people can explore how and where they want to die.
Kate Granger is a terminally ill young doctor, open and active on social media about her life, death, and treatment experiences. She is working to ensure that the health services remember that patients are people, not diseases, symptoms, or conditions.

You Only Die Once: Kate Granger’s story

Doctor and writer Kate Granger gave the second ever Dying Matters Annual Lecture on Monday evening to mark the beginning of Dying Matters Awareness week, which runs from 12-18 May.

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, she made the decision to stop receiving treatment and concentrate on enjoying a good quality of life.

Since then, Kate 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 receiving treatment.

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.

Watch Kate and Chris’s film


You can follow us on Twitter at @Dyingmatters. You can also follow Kate at @GrangerKate.

'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.
Millions leave it too late to discuss dying wishes
Dying Matters Awareness Week, get involved
Kate Granger's blog

12 thoughts on “you only die once

    1. Isn’t it fascinating, Isobel? I’ve been following Dying Matters and Kate Granger on twitter for ages, and it’s amazing how ‘positive’ they are- death is just a thing, not a ‘bad’ thing. We have a way to go yet, but you’re right, it is inspirational and empowering.

      1. Yes, and thanks for pointing me towards them. I have just read that Stephen Sutton has died. Another inspirational person. They give hope in the darkest days. I hope that will be a little comfort to his friends and family. It must be so hard.

  1. Thanks for posting this – I’d heard of Dying Matters before but this is the first time I’ve really ‘got’ what they’re all about.

    Personally, I think the whole idea of death is definitely something that we need to more honestly face as a society. Sweeping it under the table distorts how we perceive ourselves and treat other people.

    Instead of acting like we have forever and a day to do things, facing the facts might help us realise that a lot of the things we spend our time doing and/or fretting about are a waste of precious time. I think to make our lives more meaningful we have to start thinking along these lines.

    Anyway, great blog so thanks again!

    1. Oli, I really like the #yodo idea. Death is just part of lfe, and we should be better at acknowledging that. But we don’t want to upset anyone 🙂 In Ireland, we do a wake and acknowledge that a death has happened, but I’m not sure we’ve got to death plans yet!!
      I thought it was amazing to hear that Dr Granger has lined up the music she hears, and the books she wants her mum to read to her. Powerful stuff.

    1. I suppose most of us don’t think about our death until it looms, but why wouldn’t we want to influence the manner of that in some way? Surely terminally ill people may want to talk about their fears, the processes etc…

  2. As someone said to me. Once you know for certain, dieing is easy living right is fucking hard but necessary.

    Twenty five years ago, maybe more, I listened to a series religiously which was-broadcasted on CBC Radio. The host was a doctor/cancer searcher from Sunnyside Hospital in Toronto, much of what is presented then is in the links you provided, as well as the impetus behind Kate Grangers cyber endevours. I wish I could recall the hosts name. Regardless, in addition he taught medicine. Once course he taught young med students was exactly that -how to deal with dying on a human level. I don’t think many listen to this these day. Preferring to keep it clinical and not to get attached. Some do, many don’t. Some think they are, but fail badly.

    1. So much humanity gets lost in the clinical approach. Palliative care needs to be so much more than that. I used to think ‘palliative’ meant ‘pain relief from cancer’- I’ve learned a lot since then, but I still have a lot to learn.

  3. this was a moving and refreshingly honest conversation about Dr. Granger’s terminal diagnosis and how she and her lovely husband are not just handling it between themselves, but also spreading a message and spurring health care professionals to think of dying persons as people, not their disease. I was a hospice nurse for 30 years in the US, and can’t begin to tell you how even some oncologists abandoned their patients when they were deemed terminal. I am so moved by the simple message of the movement,” Hello, my name is…” such a seemingly small thing, but it does build the foundation to important elements of a clinician/patient relationship – like basic humanity and trust. thank you, Fiona, with all my heart, for sharing this film. I wish Dr. Granger and her amazing husband, Chris the contentedness and sense of accomplishment they so deserve for such thoughtful and needed messages.


    Karen xoxo ps – I found this post via Marie’s weekly round – up and am so glad I got to see
    the film.

what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s