A Toast For Kate

Unusually this post is not written by me, but I was so touched by it I wanted to share. It is written by the super talented poet Kate Fox… (@katefoxwriter)

 

A Toast For Kate
 
Everyone knows they’re going to die one day
but society tries hard to duck it
so we need stubborn truth-tellers who will sparkle and shout
before they kick the champagne bucket.
 
That is what you are –
an ordinary Yorkshire lass
let us toast your extraordinary story
and hold up a fizzing glass.
 
You are baffled when they call you brave
or inspiring or heroic,
you are carved from true Yorkshire grit,
like the phrase “Pragmatically stoic”.
 
But to inspire means to breathe in
and you inhale your life to the full,
determined to live for the moment
to avoid the flat or the dull.
 
You may not get the longest span 
but you fight hard for quality of life-
as a Doctor, author, fundraiser, friend,
colleague, daughter and wife.
 
You talk truth to cancer
write honestly to death
expire down to earth wisdom  
with every remaining breath.
 
Who would want a Doctor as a patient?
But you’ve turned it into something new
your Doctor and your patient
have learned and taught from a different view.
 
A dying Doctor still caring for others-
people say “I couldn’t do that, if it was me”
but if work can fire you up like yours does
why stay in and watch daytime T.V?
 
You have spread your message on paper
from the Other to the Bright Side
and your words multiply like dividing cells
and have now been heard far and wide.
 
On radio and telly and Twitter
urgent things on healthcare to say
and now thousands follow your journey 
and #Havejustcheckedkate every day.
 
#Hellomynameis has gone viral,
four words key to a whole way of being,
the patient at the very centre of care
an introduction, a new way of seeing.
 
An appreciation of how the little things
matter so much to a person in pain,
and the big things like being in control
and getting your life back again.
 
You hate being seen as weak
I’m not going to say that you are wrong
but sharing feelings of fear and shame
are another way in which you are strong.
 
Helping us accept that the end is inevitable
that living is doing more than simply survive
that some treatments cancel the benefits
of a few extra days being alive.
 
But showing there’s no perfect moment to leave
when there are so many bubbles left to drink
and so many stones still to skim over the sea,
so many new thoughts to think.
 
You still have words left to write
and people left to reach 
and trips in reality and imagination,
that happy place on a Shetland beach.
 
So many brownies still to bake, 
so many hugs to receive and to give,
so many sunsets still to enjoy,
at least ten other lives to live.
 
Your followers urge you on day by day
as you tick off your bucket list
but when somebody so alive is going to die
it’s hardly enough to say you’ll be missed.
 
More of us know your story than have met you
are not looking forward to the day when you’re gone
though we will have your words to go back to
and those hashtags will be living on.
 
We’ll continue having conversations you started
until we too run out of breath,
carers and patients living your legacies,
allowing others to have a Good Death
 
Everyone knows they’re going to die one day
but society tries hard to duck it
so we need stubborn truth-tellers who will sparkle and shout
before they kick the champagne bucket.
 
You are one of those-
an ordinary Yorkshire lass
I’m toasting your extraordinary story,
holding up a fizzing glass.
 
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16 thoughts on “A Toast For Kate

  1. “But to inspire means to breathe in
    and you inhale your life to the full”

    I’m one of the many people who have never met you – but that phrase seems to describe you so clearly!

    What a beautiful toast.

    Sending lots of love this Christmas x

  2. Here’s CHEERS! Either with bubbles or a pint of Old Peculiar which I learned to love in the early 1990s doing an anaesthetics SHO job in Scarborough! Over from Oz to practise on the Poms! 🙂 Best wishes Kate from a country GP from South Australia!

  3. Stunning poem ! It’s made me listen and think on a day full of frantic wrapping / decorating before Christmas Day tomorrow.
    Thank you, Kate, for being SO full of life.
    I’m a nurse and I’ve been a patient a lot too – you voice things for me only more articulately, so I show colleagues your words in the hope that if they won’t listen to me, they will to you.
    I too toast you and the poet.

  4. Beautiful poem for such a courageous woman, doctor, patient. You make us appreciate what we have and strive to make it easier for those who have not. Merry Christmas from a sydney nurse xx

  5. Dear Kate, I am an anaesthetist who also covers ITU and have been doing this for 30 years. I always thought I was pretty nice to people, staff and patients, but thank you for making me reflect on my behaviours and renew my commitment to my patients. My HDU/ITU rounds take much longer but all the patients who can speak are given the opportunity to ask questions and all the ventilated patients are personally spoken to about their condition and reassured while I hold their hand. I wish you peace in the times to come. Susan xxx

  6. What a wonderful tribute, and very deserving from what I can tell! I just am meeting you via your blog for the first time today, Dr Kate. I am a palliative care nurse (as opposed to hospice) and your posts (have only read back four posts) ring with such truths, make me weep. Thanks for sharing your heart!

  7. Thank you Woman’s Hour for leading me here. Marvellous words from Kate Fox. The painful, poignant evanescence of life, the promise and the waste, the found and lost moments. Time is the king. It conquers everything. Fantastic support network you have generated, Dr Kate Granger.

  8. Hi Kate! I know it’s been some time since I have commented…but I read your tweets and post often!! I know you have been amidst treatments and recovery from surgery…but I wanted to see if we could talk about collaborating on something together. You are so inspiring to me and it would be so wonderful to have you apart of a project I am working on. Please email when you are feeling up to it.. erinmae108@gmail.com

    All my love and well wishes to you dear one.

    Erin

  9. Thank you Kate.
    I have just come across your blog, as one of the nurses I used to work with, just forwarded me her application for an award. It seems like we have a few things in common. I too have a great passion for the NHS but sadly had to reluctantly retire early at Christmas as I have Myeloma. My daughter Pollyanna is carrying on my dreams and sharing her passions and I am proud to say she was named one of the top 25 rising stars in the NHS by the HSJ this year. She is very passionate and involved with the NHS Change Day. I too write a blog http://www.mymyelomajourney.wordpress.com. It feels good that I can still give in some small way as I found the transformation from carer to patient quite difficult at first.
    I wish you well
    Deborah

  10. This is such a beautiful poem, and although I just discovered your blog recently, I think it really describes your courage and strength. I have a friend who’s mom is also terminally cancer patient, and this reminds me so much of her. Stay Strong.

  11. had not discovered it yet! just found it now, what a poem!
    An appreciation of how the little things
    matter so much to a person in pain,
    and the big things like being in control
    and getting your life back again.

    with my heartiest wishes
    Kathi

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