What does inspiration mean?

I am often told “Kate, you are a true inspiration!” This makes me feel uncomfortable. In this short blogpost I want to try and explore what inspiration means and perhaps some of the inspiration I find in my life.

I am prompted to write as earlier this month I was named ‘Yorkshire Woman of Achievement 2013’ and I also recently discovered that my name has been included on the Health Service Journal’s inaugural ‘Most Inspirational Women in Healthcare’ list. All this attention literally bemuses me. I am just a Yorkshire lass trying to deal with a horrible situation in the most positive way I can manage. I never set out on the path of sharing my story thinking I will be recognised for it.

The dictionary definition of inspiration…





  1. The process of     being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something     creative: “flashes of inspiration”.
  2. The quality of     having been so stimulated, esp. when evident in something: “a moment     of inspiration in an otherwise dull display”.


Not to forget that I am a doctor and inspiration is also the opposite of expiration!

So how does my story ‘mentally stimulate someone to do or feel something’? I wonder if really what people mean is that they feel sympathy for me, but that sounds patronising and ‘inspirational’ sounds less so? Perhaps my live for the day philosophy and Bucket List prompts us to reassess what is important in our own lives and think about ‘what if it were me in Kate’s situation?’ ‘How would I cope?’ However, in one definition it is suggested that inspirational means a desire to emulate someone else. I am really not sure that people out there want to be in my position with terminal cancer age 31. Maybe they want to emulate the fact that I still go to work despite the circumstances; that I try to smile no matter what the world throws at me…

Why do these comments make me feel uneasy? I’m not sure really. I guess I never expected all this attention in a million years. I find it extremely humbling that people often write to me and share incredibly personal stories or tell me that my writing has helped them or a loved one come to terms with a situation. That is a very special feeling which replicates the sense of achievement looking after someone in my role as a doctor. However, it still feels strange, touching the life of a complete stranger.  Perhaps I should embrace it all, but in reality I am an introvert, and it is just simply not in my nature to go about saying ‘look at me, I’m extraordinary!’

Where do I find my inspiration? What motivates me to get out of bed in the morning? My family, my work and especially my patients, my kitchen, my music… Simple things in life that allow me to be creative, to try and do some good and to live well while I have the chance…