Dear Cancer Part 6

Dear Cancer,

Well, this was never a letter I expected to write… 4 years we’ve shared this curious relationship of ours. 4 years. Who’d have thought it? 

Last time I wrote I was incredibly frightened. You had woken up just before Christmas and caused no end of issues. I’m not sure if I was more fearful of the impact of you on my creaking body or the impact further chemotherapy and the associated unrelenting infections were going to have on me. 

I struggled so much with the poisoning this time, not just physically, but mentally too. It was almost as if every little essence of Kate was trickling away with each infusion. I don’t mind admitting to you how down I was, especially when I decided enough was enough on chemo front. I didn’t want to work. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I guess I just felt weak and lost. Looking back on that difficult time I wonder if I was actually having some kind of delayed adjustment reaction to your presence in our lives.

It has taken what seems like such a long time to get back on my feet, although in reality it has only been a few months. Gradually, little by little, with our ‘one day at a time’ mantra I have managed to claw back my sense of self, and am finally feeling some semblance of normality again. Restarting clinical work, charity fundraising, ticking a few more items off the Bucket List, #hellomynameis and spending precious time with friends and family have all helped to discover me again. 

Are you asleep at the moment? Other than the annoyance of the frequent stent infections I have had a good few weeks of actually feeling well. I have become strangely and acutely aware of your activity or lack thereof after living with you for 48 months and the tell-tale signs of your wake up stretch. However saying that every little twinge in my tummy will get analysed, probably overly so. And these last few days those twinges have been occurring too often for comfort, especially during the night. Then there is the firm lymph node that has recently recurred in my left supraclavicular fossa. I find myself palpating it almost constantly, wishing it wasn’t there…

I don’t know how long you’re going to give me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to face future treatment. I don’t know if I can even face a scan. I just don’t know. Uncertainty, for me, is by far the worst aspect of our relationship. I know I keep saying that and you can’t give me any answers. But I cannot stress enough the burden of living with uncertainty day in day out. It really does takes its toll. The trouble is taking your picture doesn’t always resolve this uncertainty; just because you might appear stable on one scan I know how quickly you can get on the move again…

So we just have to take it one day at a time and be grateful for the well time, and deal with the not so well time. I guess that’s what we’ve tried to do the whole way on this journey. Perhaps the end is becoming gradually more visible on the horizon. However there is still so much to live for and difficult decision making awaits over the forthcoming weeks. For now though I’m going to try and ignore you as rude as that sounds. I’ve only just got back to work and all I want right now is a few more weeks of doing the job I love… I am determined you are not going to take that away from me.

Best wishes,



31 thoughts on “Dear Cancer Part 6

  1. Reblogged this on My Journey and commented:
    Dr Kate Granger writes with such simplicity yet such depth, her words move me to tears.

    What does she ask for?

    A few more weeks of being a good doctor, working in the NHS, serving her patients, doing the job that she loves…..

  2. Kate, As always inspiring and thought provoking. I too live with uncertainty with myeloma although I’ve been much luckier with long period of remission. I do believe that being positive, as you are really helps.

    Take care

  3. Glad to read you are feeling better. Appreciate you have a lot on but if you ever fancy a little more writing something on the pro’s and cons of chemo would be really helpful

    look after yourself

  4. Your writing is inspirational, for those on a similar journey, those who care for people with life threatening illnesses, well actually all of us humans!
    I really appreciate what you wrote about living with uncertainty, so true. You must be a role model for so many in clinical practice. Well done you. Thanks, for all you are achieving.xx

  5. Glad to hear you are feeling a bit better Kate.
    You have hit the nail on the head regarding living with uncertainty.I can really struggle with it even though I have just be lucky enough to have a clear CT scan.
    Take care x

  6. We are in the process of losing our own dear Kate (29yrs) to metastatic breast cancer. The 6 yrs of her fighting this cruel disease have been a mixture of triumph and heartbreak. What a battle! She has been an inspiration to all who know and love her always positive (on the outside), thinking of others even now and literally pushing herself and her wheelchair to enjoy the last bit of life.
    The last stage has been accepting that nothing more could be done which although expected was totally devastating. However, we have to acknowledge that being free of treatments, scans and anxious waiting rooms is a relief. Many heartbreaking conversations have been had and plans put in place and we are cherishing every tiny pleasure, smile and hug. It is the most terrible and the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed.
    Every good wish to you

    • I’m so sorry that your Kate is terminally ill, but I’m so glad that you’ve had the courage to “embrace” end of life care and make the most of the time that your dear Kate has left – I know that you’re hearts are breaking, but the sweet memories that you create will become so very precious and will live in your heart forever xxxx

  7. Kate,
    You infuse so much humanity through your words that we feel your experience and empathize with you. So glad to see you writing and sharing.
    In my thoughts,

  8. Dear Kate,
    As always your honesty and clarity of thought almost halts me in my tracks. I so long for a miracle for you, and for Chris, and failing that, for you to have as much really good time, together and in medicine as is possible.

  9. Kate – your beautiful writing is moving, inspiring and heartbreaking. I hope your latest wishes can be fulfilled. You have opened your heart and soul to the world, and I couldn’t respect you more. I pray you have more time, with the beastly cancer resting quietly.

  10. Kate, that was a wonderful post. I’ve had my own “cancer journey” this year, and I long for you to have more time to be with Chris and to pursue your career. And so much more….You are an inspiration.

  11. After reading your books an hoping for the next one I have only just joined your blog. I was fortunate enough to survive my cancer from 2008 and felt my husband literally dragged me to my chemo sessions, only to discover my husband had cancer in March 2009, he fought very very hard for five years and much like yourself very determined to not let it beat him but sadly he passed away in October 2014. Coming to terms with the final diagnosis of “there is nothing more we can do” as you know is devastating beyond belief. We were very fortunate that he was able to remain at home till the very end as was his wish and gave myself and our two sons great pleasure in doing this for him and just having the pleasure of being with him everyday. Unfortunately life now for myself is almost unbearable. I hope you are able to cram in as many more memories and moments as is possible for you. As I’m sure you know every single moment is a precious one. Wish you all the luck in the world you are an inspiration and deserve so much more time. Glad you are keeping well at the moment and long may it continue, hope it’s time the cancer had a rest for a while.
    Very very best wishes

  12. Kate, your words are beautiful. I follow you and your campaign and was thrilled to see the #hellomynameis being used on a recent trip to Ipswich Hospital, you are inspirational.


  13. Hi Kate, I’ve been following your blog ever since I discovered your ‘hellomynameis’ campaign which I think is a marvellous and much needed project. My heart goes out to you. I wonder has prayer been of any comfort? Today I came across a blog by another woman who says she was healed of stage 4 colon cancer. I know she has at least one daughter who’s a medical doctor. I thought it might be of interest to you and that you might find you have a lot in common:
    With warm best wishes

    Sent from my iPad

  14. Pingback: Dear Cancer Part 6 | Health Blog Round-up | Sc...

  15. Dearest Kate, your words travel the world and touch so many people, as I read them I pass them on to my friends who pass them on to their friends. So it is uncountable . Your wisdom, courage and humour are your tools, your insight and compassion is your vehicle.

  16. Hi Kate love your post,I started my own cancer journey last year and it’s certainly opened my eyes about life and what’s important.

  17. Dear Kate,
    Reading your blog has inspired me to write my own. I am a nurse who has spent my life working in cancer and palliative care. Now my dear 50 years young husband has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive leukaemia. We are grappling with territory that is very familiar to you…. Anyway your words shed light and understanding to a journey with no maps so thank you. I though I knew it all, but …. It’s been a learning curve. I’m sure you don’t have the time or desire to read more cancer blogs but in case you should be interested I have sent you a link. From the wife’s perspective.You are spending your time looking after your patients which is where you want to be.
    Hellomynameis is great…. Although it should be unnecessary…. Common courtesy shouldn’t have to be taught! Wishing you every good wish,

  18. Hi Kate,
    I have friends use supplement to aid cancer therapy. It really help to reduce side effect from chemo. He became cancer free afterwards. He continue to use it to boost the immune system.
    Qigong might help too.
    Please feel free to email me.
    In my prayers,

  19. Hello Kate, you are saying so many words I have uttered myself in the past 4 years. Uncertainty, one day at a time, communication and compassion most important, cancer is not about winning or losing. And more. Although I am now free from cancer I have debilitating cranial nerve damage as a result radiotherapy. Life can be tough but as you say, ‘I didn’t choose this’ so don’t call me heroic. There’s a great line from a Josh Groban song ‘I am not a hero, I am not an angel, I am just a man’. Left with a speech impediment it sounds pretty bad when I sing, but I am passionate about about communicating with the speech impaired. You have my admiration, respect and prayers. Iain

  20. Just found your blog! This letter is worded so well, your honesty and your courage comes through! Thanks for sharing it with so many!! My heart and prayers go out to you and your family!

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