And a happy new year…

My first Christmas affected by cancer was four years ago. I had just been through my fifth cycle of chemotherapy and was discharged on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t face going anywhere other than home, so Chris, my parents and me ate French onion soup and mince pies for our Christmas dinner and I promptly fell asleep on the sofa. I was readmitted to hospital a few days later with febrile neutropaenia and the worst abdominal pain I’ve ever endured. 

Christmas 2012 was a much happier affair spent at my parents for lunch, then the in-laws in the evening. However, there was still a large dark cancer cloud hanging over us with that continuing sense of “maybe this is my last”. 

Christmas 2013 was in some ways very happy, but was also massively difficult. My cancer had woken up in the preceding October and I was again being poisoned. I made a decision to delay my second cycle, even though I knew it would impact efficacy. This was in order to have Christmas at home, not marred by unpleasant side effects and hospital admissions. I remember escaping from the sarcoma clinic that day with my friend Kay like truanting school girls!

Christmas 2014 was another tricky one. I had a scan for worsening symptoms in mid December and knew that it had shown worsening disease. We decided not to make this common knowledge until after the festivities, in an attempt to make happy memories if it was to be my last. Putting the brave face on was incredibly difficult, then the bad news breaking that followed was even more so.

This Christmas I am for the first time in a long time excited. We are spending the day with my brother, his wife and their two little ones. I’ve bought more presents than an Aunty probably should and am looking forward to trying goose for the first time ever. I can’t wait to get up at some ungodly hour with the kids and see their faces while they open their presents. I don’t know what my cancer is up to right now, nor do I have any inclination to know as I am just settling into my very first Consultant post. I do know however that chemo is becoming less effective and this may well be my last. If it is I’m sure it will be one to remember and I am grateful to be in a physical state to enjoy it. 

This time of year often leads us to reflect on the year that has just past. For me: 4 cycles of chemo, a national launch of #hellomynameis, an MBE, an Honorary Doctorate, a UK wide campaign tour, a trip to California, a CCT and a new job. Not a bad year really…

It is also a time to look forwards to the forthcoming year. I don’t know what 2016 has in store for Chris and me. I can’t keep defying the odds forever, but I remain so physically fit in spite of the cancer. Who knows? ‘One day at a time’ has to be the continuing philosophy for now…

I’d just like to wish everyone touched by cancer in any way a happy, peaceful & symptom free Christmas. 


42 thoughts on “And a happy new year…

    • I agree, also read the truth about cancer by Ty Bollinger – amazing info. and you can eat food he recommends while having chemo and it still makes you stronger.

  1. Kate I wish you a very happy Christmas . May you continue to live a happy fulfilled day at a time . You are a true inspiration x

  2. Kate, many congratulations on becoming a consultant, your MBE and doctorate. If only there wasn’t that pesky cancer lurking in the background or of course all too often in the foreground, your life would be wonderful! I hope Christmas with your family is the best ever and may there be many more. You deserve that!
    My husband died of lung cancer four months ago so my Christmas will be a sad one as were the past two when we knew there wouldn’t be many more.
    My very best wishes to youand yours-you are a special person!

  3. I am gripped when reading Kate’ occasional posts. Hoping for the best but fearing the worst, perhaps we have now reached a tipping point and the news will from now on reflect her courage and the effectiveness of the chemo.

  4. Happy Christmas, joy and hope in the New Year, and thanks for bringing positivity and smiles to all of us affected in some way by cancer and other life-affecting illness. Love to you, to Chris, and all you hold dear. xxx

  5. Wishing you and yours a wonderful and peaceful Christmas. I am a total stranger, but one completely in awe of you. I do wish you the very best… X

  6. Thank you Kate,I love reading your posts. You are a person just like any other  learning as you go along, developing wisdom and sharing it. Thank you for sharing I wish you well in the new year.

    From: drkategranger To: Sent: Wednesday, 23 December 2015, 20:47 Subject: [New post] And a happy new year… #yiv2362061468 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2362061468 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2362061468 a.yiv2362061468primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2362061468 a.yiv2362061468primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2362061468 a.yiv2362061468primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2362061468 a.yiv2362061468primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2362061468 | drkategranger posted: “My first Christmas affected by cancer was four years ago. I had just been through my fifth cycle of chemotherapy and was discharged on Christmas Eve. I couldn’t face going anywhere other than home, so Chris, my parents and me ate French onion soup and min” | |

  7. Have a great one Kate – I hope you and Chris and you family have a fantastic Christmas and that it will be followed by many more. little ones tend to wake at about 5.00 am in my experience………., you could be falling asleep again after lunch for an entirely different reason!

  8. Merry x- mass Dr Kate. I am a newly qualified nurse and this week a hello my name is .. name badge was delivered to me. I wear it with pride!!! Each time I look at it, I remember you and admire your strength for changing the attitude of medical and healthcare professionals. Enjoy your x- mass and no doubt that the little ones will keep you busy and also happy.

  9. Dear Kate – have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy everything about it – none of us knows that a we have tomorrow, so we need to enjoy the present! Congratulations on all your achievements in the last year – and may you be truly blessed and continue to be an inspiration in 2016. God bless you. Maureen x

  10. Still an inspiration – keep going Kate, love Christmas, love your family, love life! You deserve every beautiful moment and more. Wishing you peace and joy in 2016.

  11. Dear Kate and Chris…thinking of you as you enjoy your Christmas….and I hope that the new year will turn out to be good one….

  12. Just read your post this evening and it has lifted my spirits you are truly an amazing woman Kate.
    I am going for a scan tomorrow and very nervous of the outcome as symptoms not good. I am also keeping very low key as I don’t want to spoil anyone’s Christmas.
    If the news is not good then I only hope I can take your example and put up a darned good fight also.
    Have a good one Kate and all the best for 2016 xx

  13. Hi Kate, I’ve been following you on Twitter for a few years now and I just want to say that I think you’re amazing (sorry, I know you hate all the gushing and see yourself as nothing extraordinarily but I disagree!)

    The way you embrace life, despite your illness, and continue to strive to improve patient experience within the NHS is so inspiring. Every time I go to a hospital appointment now, I wait in
    anticipation of the ‘hello my name is’- something I didn’t even know I had the right to expect until you started your

    Anyway, just wanted to share that with you and to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a magical Christmas- you’re definitely on the nice list and I hope you get spoiled rotten. Enjoy the goose and report back on Twitter (I’ve never tried it either) X

  14. Bless you Kate for your inspirational courage and the difference you are making to so many people. May this family Christmas be full of love and peace.

  15. Kate,

    You are awesome and an inspiration of positivity to us all. Thank you for your writing, your campaigning and your support of juniors even now you’re a mighty consultant. Very happy Xmas to you xx

  16. Happy Christmas Kate, I hope you have a great day with the family. By the way, no child understands the concept of “too many presents!”

  17. Kate, I hope you and Chris have a wonderful Christmas with the little ones and what a lot you have achieved in the last year. This is my third Christmas with metastatic cancer, I’m grateful for every milestone. I want to thank you for improving patient experience with ‘hello, my name is’, it has definitely made a difference in my hospital. Merry Christmas x

    • Hi Kate, great to hear from you. Enjoy the festivities with the family. Goose is delicious by the way. You have had an outstanding year. Haven’t seen Chris in a while. Love and best wishes to you both.


  18. You have made a bigger impact in the past four years than most professionals do over a whole career. You have effected system-wide change in the NHS (not many can say that!) and inspired hundreds of thousands of individuals, many struggling with similar challenges to your own.
    Although life is totally arbitrary and profoundly unfair, you have flown in the face of its exigencies and proven yourself someone of kindness, compassion and determination. What a role model to professional colleagues, trainees, other people living with diseases and everyone else! Truly humbling…
    I hope you, together with your friends & family, are able to find some peace, laughter and lots of love over Christmas.

  19. Dr. Kate…My name is Carol Caldwell. My brave, beautiful 52 year old daughter just lost her long battle with metastatic breast cancer on December 15, 2015. She was a geriatric psychologist…called “Dr. Sue” by her patients. I want you to know that your story has been an inspiration and great help to me as I traveled along her journey the past two years and four months. She NEVER gave up and HOPE was always with her throughout the entire time. I am so very happy that you are doing well and will continue to follow your life and offer you my good wishes and am sending light and prayers to you. You can be my adopted daughter now, one that I will never see but always care for. Thank you…and Merry, Merry Christmas.

  20. Hi Kate

    I am a double cancer survivor so I undestand the uncertainty we always feel than other people.

    I hope that I still read your letter next coming Christmas.

    Wishing you and Chris a happy new year


  21. Your strength and courage continue to astound me. You are a remarkable young woman who has had an enormous impact on so many.
    Wishing you a peaceful and comfortable new year Kate

  22. Well done and keep up the great work! I am a consultant neuropsychologist doing a locum at St James’ in Leeds. I have written in the BMJ about applying Gandhian principles etc to healthcare. My website is I have often wondered whether as well as – Hello My Name Is – we should also have as standard – How Are You Coping?

    Narinder Kapur

  23. Pingback: And a happy new year... | Health Blog Round-up ...

  24. Hello it’s 2am and I can’t sleep. I’m catching up on woman’s hour via pod cast. I am awake because of pain I’m not dying I have chronic pain due to major back surgery 4 years ago
    Having watched fhe program with Simon sharing his journey to eternity
    I was glad to be. Home alone because I cried my eyes out

    I’ve just listened to you on radio 4 and marvel at your attitude
    The only thing you didn’t cover was human euthanasia
    I hope that your cancer is still dormant

  25. Kate my niece is 23 single mother of 3 yr old. and has the same cancer. They give her a 10% chance making it threw the year. We are trying to find anyone willing to try to help her. She’s doing chemo now but we need to know of someone in the U S that specializes in this type of cancer. She has 4 tumors now we all feel so helpless. Can u suggest anyone. My email is Thank you. Will keep you in my prayers.

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