Our blog is written by Chris Pointon, co-founder of the #hellomynameis campaign, husband of the late Kate Granger MBE. It’s a story not only of how one woman used a life limiting diagnosis to global positive effect but how men play a similarly vital role in changing perceptions.
My inspiring wife was a doctor but also a terminally ill cancer patient who was diagnosed with a desmoplastic small round cell tumour in 2011. Her experience on the other side (as a doctor turned patient) resulted in her inspiring many thousands of people across the world through the writing of two books, our tireless fundraising for charity (to date we have raised over £325,000), her dedication to the NHS and the #hellomynameis campaign that we founded 4 years ago now.
The campaign came out of a hospital admission that Kate and I experienced in 2013. It became apparent after quite a few which was really getting to Kate because she was feeling quite low and her pain was increasing. When we talked about it that evening and Kate was moaning about it somewhat, I just said to her, “Darling, stop whinging and let’s do something about it”, let’s use your social media presence and come up with a campaign – let’s call it something like ‘#hellomynameis’ – and it was born.
Kate already had a large Twitter following, so we felt we could use the power of social media to get the message out. At the start, we thought this would be a two-week, two-month, or maybe six-month phenomena. But look how far it has come! We now operate in 20 countries across 6 continents and receive many plaudits across the globe for a simple campaign that has revolutionised global healthcare
The campaign probably shouldn’t have been needed in the first place as many of us think we’re courteous and communicate well, but if you stop and think about it, maybe we aren’t. That’s why this campaign continues to be so important for health care and wider industries across the world.
It takes very little time to do, helps build trust and is the start of a therapeutic relationship between 2 persons – common courtesy really.
The amount of uptake from the very start, within the NHS first and foremost, then across the world has been unbelievable. My ambition now is to keep spreading the message across as many health care and other establishments as I can, making sure that organizations embed the change into their culture.
It can take several months, if not years, to embed change into an organization, but such a simple change with such a simple message can have a huge impact. I think that’s why so many organizations have chosen to make this part of their culture, to add it to their office signature, or make it part of their name badges. The campaign is about people who are willing and wanting to connect with patients in a meaningful way.
Following Kates death in July 2016 I have continued and accelerated the campaign amongst other things and I am just about to take a sabbatical from my job to embark on a 12 month global and UK tour which will spread awareness further.
My aim is to be able to walk into any hospital anywhere in the world and have people introduce themselves because of the campaign. I know it’s a big ambition, but you have to dream big. Kate and I lived with cancer for five years and throughout that time Kate made a huge contribution to the world and she will never be forgotten through various awards named after her and for the campaign. Despite the adversity in life Kate still created an amazing legacy that will be here for not just our generation but for many generations to come.