Dear Cancer Part 2

To mark my two year cancerversary in July this year I wrote a letter to my cancer reflecting on what it was like to live together and thinking about the future. As my cancer has recently decided to progress I thought I would put pen to paper again…


Dear Cancer,

So you decided to wake up from your long sleep then. I wonder what you’ve been dreaming about all those months. Did I give you a nudge? Was it the episode of infection after my stent exchange operation? Did all those cytokines flying around my body jolt you awake? Or have you been waking up more insidiously over a few months, really quietly so that I didn’t notice at first and then bang, did you think it would be fun to give me a very hard tap on the shoulder, just to make sure I knew you were back?

Whatever it was that woke you up I do know about it now. The pain you are causing is horrible and I am not impressed. You are forcing my hand to have to resort to stronger and stronger analgesia, just to quieten your effects on my damaged body. When I sat in the Registrar’s Office at work and looked at the scan pictures my heart sank. There you were. Bold as brass. All over my abdomen. Filling my pelvis. Threatening to obstruct my large bowel. Sneakily hiding behind my left clavicle.

So here’s the thing. I’m not quite ready to let you take my life yet. I have a few more things I’d like to achieve. I want to look after a few more patients of my own. I want to finish my third book. There are so many people out there I would love to meet in real life. So I’m afraid I’m going to have to poison you again in the hope that we can shrink you a bit and send you back off to sleep. You are nothing without me, as when I die so do you, so please be obedient and let the drugs do their work on you. I know the time will come when you get your own way, but I’m not going to let that happen just yet.

Kind regards,

K x


49 thoughts on “Dear Cancer Part 2

  1. A friend who had breast cancer (twice) had a wonderful imagining process she used while on chemo. She imagined the molecules of chemo to be like Pac Man searching out and devouring the cancer cells.

    I will imagine this for you and I will say chomp chomp as I see this in my mind’s eye. I am with you. I will ask Barbara to join me

    (3.5 years past prostate cancer)

  2. I follow you on twitter, you are such an inspiring lady Kate.
    I have a chronic illness, I work, I laugh, cram so much in the day.
    Through reading the things that you go through, you are truly an amazing lady!
    Thank you for sharing your experiences as a patient and a doctor.

    Your #hellomynameis – I get it as a patient! I have regular medical appointments and love the personal touch of a medical persons name!!

    Dr Kate Granger keep fighting the C
    Best wishes to you

  3. Beautifully and powerfully put, Kate – I hope you manage to do the things you want to do – you certainly deserve to!

  4. I have been reading you a quite long time; never told you how much you have impacted my life and my perfect ice in life. Since mr cancer is back I would like to make you smile as much more you made me realise his foolish I am mostly if the have taught me to be driven, focused, patient… You made me see what I struggled to notice: my life passing by and me selfishly wanting more and wishing those healthy moments away. I don’t have cancer, you are stronger than me. Feel better soon, brave girl! Thank you for inspiring my days and looking after my sanity.
    From someone in London praying for your good health, Tauane xxx

  5. Kate I believe the reason you are still here, is because you have accepted what’s going on in your body and as a Doctor you understand the importance of peace within. When you are ready you will know. I pray for you and pray God’ grace is upon your life and it is given freely.

  6. here’s a hope that the ‘poisons’ work, that they affect only the cancer, and that they keep it at bay as long as you want+need.
    Thoughts to you Kate

  7. Oh, Kate, my words of sympathy/amazement/encouragement are utterly trite compared with your wonderful words. My very, very best wishes to you xxx

    • Yep shit is what came to my mind, and since you said it first I don’t feel bad about repeating it. Can think of some other words but I’ll leave them left unsaid.

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  9. I guess bloggers like comments. It almost feels like an imposition. But the interaction is presumably desirable or you wouldn’t put the effort in?
    It’s tremendously difficult to strike the balance between feeding back the appreciation and benefit that I reap from your posts, against the feeling that my comments are probably replicated regularly and predictable… Anyway-
    Thanks. An eloquent first person view is so valuable as a learning method.
    Whenever I care for someone who is
    very unwell I think I have probably given as much as I can, but you never really know if your perception and empathy have been balanced and appropriate. So much of what HCPs do is intuitive and based on humanity, rather than evidence based medicine and training, that there will always be doubts as to whether I got it right.
    I think your posts reinforce the feeling that care from a person to a person should be just that – personal.
    Somehow, despite the subject matter, I find your writing absolutely uplifting.

    Best wishes

  10. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Hope you get a good response to chemo. I like how you use the phrase “you are nothing without me”.i have never thought I it that way. Best wishes.

  11. How wonderful. Hopefully you feel a lot better after you giving it he’ll. good luck I admire you so much. You deserve all the luck in the world. You are inspirational.

  12. I feel so sad for you Kate & angry at the same time. My mum worked as a volunteer for Cancer Research Charity Shop & only about 7% of money actually goes to research. Im sure if people knew what most the money was spent on they wouldnt donate. If 90% was spent on research you may not of been in this awful position & mum may not of died from breast cancer. Im thinking of you. Dolly xx

  13. Dear Kate So sorry to hear that the cancer has returned. You are an inspiration to all that know you and read your blog. I pray for your continued resilience.and strength of mind. God bless you and your family. Elizabeth

    Sent from my iPad


  14. Beautifully put. I love your writing, I love the way you bridge the gap between medicine and humanity. Reminds me of Siddartha Mukherjee – did you read his book? It was enlightening to me – really resonates with your observation on the irony of cancer being so pervasive that its ultimate survival and proliferation results in its end through the death of its host. Little comfort, I know. But quirky nonetheless.

  15. A friend’s mum was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 29. Several times she has been told it has recurred and is terminal. Each time she somewhat responds to chemo but it never completely goes. She has always lived life to the full, and now, in her 50s, is expecting her second grandchild and still dying of cancer. I hope your cancer responds to the poison and goes back to sleep x

  16. i can’t imagine what it’s like for you Kate because it seems such a life event to meet head-on. You’re doing it though and I so admire your courage and determination. Go for it Kate!

  17. Hi Kate,
    I am with you but a bit behind. My MRI on Monday will let me know if the pain in my spine is cancer or spaces left by the cancer…..I’m hoping its the latter, otherwise what was the point in the treatment.
    Pain is exhausting but yours sounds much worse than mine. I have become unashamedly a morphine junky…….but I do sleep….probably too much.
    With love and gentle hugs
    Lindy x

  18. My cousin’s wife , Marilyn, died from brain cancer 2 years ago. The last time I saw her I knew that I would never see her again and I couldn’t pretend that I would. I couldn’t put on the happy face that I thought she needed and I cried for the entire visit. For probably 20 minutes we held onto each other and I told her everything I needed to tell her; how much she meant to me, how much I was going to miss her,and silly things like how much I’d always loved her hair and then I held her face in my hands, looked into her beautiful eyes and told her goodbye.
    She gave me that chance. To anyone who is slowly losing someone
    be sure to take it.
    Thank you for all you’ve done Kate.

  19. Hello Kate, I have written to you before. I share your feelings about cancer. Alas, I am about 25 years older than you, I think (I am useless at remembering details). I had a grim diagnosis and prognosis 4 years ago – there was then scant chance that I would be here now. I was then in my mid 50s, and I realised that there was so much more that I wanted to do. My life journey has been pock marked with disease of one sort or another – you are a doctor, maybe this will distract you a little: aged 5 I caught diphtheria after being immunised, my mother was vigilant and knew I had more than a simple sore throat, I was carted off to Seaview Hospital in Leeds (I think that’s the name, I was living in Roundhay Park in Leeds then), I can remember little else until I woke up and struggled to get out of bed. I was so ashamed and embarrassed, I needed to get to the loo, and I couldn’t figure out why my body didn’t work properly…
    I survived that. I picked up TB as a med student (yes, I am one of those too, but alas I never worked in clinical medicine, I got an intercalated BSc and wondered off on a different career path, having had a more or less free education, as we had in those days…).
    I have survived all sorts of scratches, scrapes, bumps and humps ever since. I had to stop carrying a donor card because of cancer, and then I found out to my chagrin that I couldn’t leave my body to a medical school, because they would prefer a female to have her female bits and pieces, and mine are now, I suppose, in formalin somewhere. Hopefully I will summons up the courage to go to have a look at them, sometime. To get back to my body, my motives there were commercial – it shifted the burial costs onto the med school, and away from my friends and family…
    I am a paradox, you see. I am one of these paradoxical characters that puzzle medics the world over, because we somehow manage to survive.
    That is what I really want to share with you, my paradox, call it luck, or faith in God, or love of life, or whatever. I would so much love to be able to give you some of my years, to take your hand and help you a little bit. I cannot do that, I can only hope and say that, as I write this, I see a candle burning brightly, because I lit it for you.
    I saw your tweets, and I can understand your grief, but your career is not over and now it will never be over, because you have written your wonderful books and been so generous in sharing your journey. These books will live on forever and ever, and give so many people your insights, your wisdom, your knowledge and, above all, the most precious gift that anyone can give, the gift that is called HOPE.
    I don’t expect you to post this, it is up to you, but I have written it to you in the early hours of the morning, before our part of the world wakes up. I saw darkness as I stumbled out of bed, my husband sleeping besides me. I came thru’ to the kitchen, fumbling for my tube of piroxicam (carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder) these chronic conditions being a result of a life spent writing, dog walking, and lately, falling over. Alas, I fell over in a public place (a hospital, would you believe???) a couple of years ago, and then last year a CT for cancer picked up not cancer, but calcification within the lumbar spine, a possible slipped disc or two. I had an MRI in September of my spine, and I will see the surgeon soon to find out what he thinks I have to do to fix it. All I can tell you is that the pain involved is awesome, 50 mgs of fentanyl, plus all the other gubbins involved in the treatment of chronic severe pain. I am lucky in that I am ambulatory, on crutches (1 because of the state of my right arm), I can drive short distances, so I am free. And so relieved that the twinges of pain I have felt over the last two years are not cancer, as I feared, but just the spine, which is fixable.
    My goodness, what a rant this is. I type quickly, I am going to finish now, I can see the birds outside and hear their song. Your candle is burning brightly by the window, despite one dog running in and out of the garden – the flame flickered as he passed, but it now straight and more than an inch long. I will keep that candle burning and mention you in my prayers each day.
    With love, Layla

    • Hello, I thought I would let you know that the candle I lit on Saturday morning – a standard white 6″ – burned it’s way right down until the flame was extinguished by the wax. That’s said to be a good omen, that somewhere someone is listening and hearing, a prayer… Layla xxx

  20. I wanted to pass on a recommendation that may be helpful to you and your followers. I have stage 4 breast cancer, with mets to the bones, liver and pertitoneum. I have had no success with hormonal therapy (AI’s or Tamoxifen) – so my only option is perpetual chemo, which I think will give me a year, maybe two if I’m lucky. So instead I have started a course of cannabis oil, and after just a few weeks my markers are dropping like flies. I don’t know whether it will continue but I am very encouraged so far – it’s also a very manageable treatment. I am due a PET scan in a couple months and will report back. Do look into it – a good place to start is googling Rick Simpsons Oil.

  21. Pingback: Dear Cancer Part 2 | Health Blog Round-up | Sco...

  22. Look it in the face Kate and treat it like the enemy…. good for you! You have friends and allies out there in the grey matter, rooting for you and willing you to live your life, and death the way you choose. And they will be there someday for all of us to hug and laugh with again. With love and strength from Katie’s mum X

  23. Hi Kate
    I have followed you on Twitter for some time for now, which for me felt like a huge decision. Why? Because I have OCD and for me it’s intrusive thoughts – death in particular, and selfishly mine. I can’t explain how much the thought terrifies me but it consumes my waking hours, but by following you I realise how selfish I am. I’m not ill, I have a wonderful family and a great life. In my more rational conversations with myself I tell myself this, and that there are others so much worse off than me…..I read the comments above from others who suffer either from cancer or in other ways that I hope I will never experience, and am in awe of how you and they cope. It makes my issue seems so very selfish.
    So I continue to follow you and read your blog – I wish you…..I don’t know what….peace, strength, courage in your journey. And thank you for sharing this very personal experience with us.

  24. Ketogenic diet (see doctors Thomas Seyfried, Eugene Fines) and low protein raw food diet (see doctor John Beard) are known to cure cancer in some/many cases. The idea is to eat as less animal food, carbohydrates and cooked foods as possible. The diets can be combined into one, which in one version would basically consist of eating raw nuts, raw butter, cold pressed olive oil, raw vegetables especially leafy greens, raw goat cheese, egg yolk, occasionally liver and small fish. Water fasting (See Herbert Shelton), cannabis oil (Rick Simpson), 4 glasses of carrots a day, have testimonials of healing from cancer. All these cures have scientific studies supporting their anti-cancer effects.

    • Oh, dear. I think that Dr Kate has better things to do than read this nonsense. If there was any truth at all in the notion that cancer could be cured by diet alone, then there would be no need for oncologists, chemo, cancer centres, etc., at all. Or for people like her and so many others to face an early death, a life cut short.
      I strongly disagree with what you day. LL

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