Terminally ill doctor is determined to carry on caring

Dr. Kate Granger at work in Pinderfields
Dr. Kate Granger at work in Pinderfields

EVER since she was a little girl, Kate Granger wanted to be a doctor - so she is not going to let terminal cancer stop her from the job she loves now.

Nine months after her diagnosis, she is back working as a registrar in elderly medicine at Pinderfields and has just published a book describing her experiences.

The 30-year-old from East Ardsley has already sold over 700 copies of her book, The Other Side, raising nearly £5,000 for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre.

Kate and her husband Chris, 34, were on holiday in California last July when she became ill.

Admitted to hospital with renal failure, she worked out for herself that she had cancer.

On returning to the UK she went straight to the Yorkshire Cancer Centre at St James’s where she was diagnosed with a very rare form of sarcoma, desmoplastic small round cell tumour.

She explained: “Most people present with it at a late stage and it is an aggressive, rapid disease.

“It is in my liver and bones so they are never going to cure me and in terms of how long I have got, who knows?”

“I am quite pragmatic about the whole thing, I am very matter of fact about the fact I am dying.

“I just have to get on with my life while I can.”

It was during five long months in hospital undergoing chemotherapy that she started her book.

“One of my colleagues at Pinderfields suggested I keep a diary so I started writing in a note book and when my note book was full I turned on my lap top, 1,000 words became 10,000 became 40,000 and then I had a book,” she said

“I had a lot of sleepless nights in hospital and it was a release, emotionally.

“The book is mainly aimed at health care professionals though I have had lots of readers who are not medics who say they have enjoyed it.

“But mostly it is directed at doctors, to explain what it is really like to be a patient and to get them to appreciate the finer non-medical details and make them aware how even small behaviours have a massive impact on the people they are treating.

“It’s also about my own personal battle with control, learning how to relinquish that a little.”

Kate said being a doctor made some aspects of her treatment easier, knowing what questions to ask and what the treatments were going to be like, but said that at times it might have been better not to know what was in store for her.

It did however enable her to make better informed decisions about her own care and on New Year’s Eve, having weighed up the benefits and the pain of her treatment, she decided enough was enough, the cancer would be allowed to run its course.

Kate said: “My treatment stopped at New Year and I have just had an amazing four months.

“We have been to London and stayed at the Savoy, we went to dinner at Claridge’s, we have been to Paris and are renewing our wedding vows, but there are a lot of little things on my bucket list that won’t be impressive to others, things like going to the zoo or to a cricket match.

“We have a trip to Spain planned, to Barcelona and Catalonia and I am always busy, every weekend.”

“I am just so happy to get up in the morning, put my work clothes on and going to work and just having Sunday lunch with the family and playing with my nephew.

“Those things are really important to me now when maybe I took them for granted before.”

With so much to get done, many would give up work, but not Kate.

“I love being a doctor, I have always have and I really missed it when I had six months sick leave, having chemo.

“Once I was well enough to go back I was biting at the bit to get back to work and they have been very supportive.

“I used to work 60/70 hour weeks, I am not doing that any more of course, I am just working three days a week.

“It is just the sense of normalcy and I think I can still make a difference in my own little way.”

For reviews of her book and to buy a copy, either for a Kindle or a hardcopy, visit her website www.theothersidestory.co.uk