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Anna Donald’s last blog

3 Aug, 09 | by BMJ

Anna Donald Anna Donald died on 1 February 2009. The blog below was found on her computer posthumously. At a memorial service for her at UCL on 26 April 2009, a six minute video was shown that was edited from material shot for a documentary and interactive website that will be launched in late 2009. Follow this link to watch the video.

On Tuesday, 20 January 2009, Anna wrote:

“Oh dear, you are hearing from one tardy blogger. It’s true that, at times, I’ve been in truly horrible pain over the past four weeks. But not enough not to blog. The Pain has been something else again, however, so I should probably write about it.

Cancer pain takes many guises, of course. My particular version is still gripping, spasmodic-colicky abdominal pain that just quietly drones on and on in the background, or, alternatively, thrashes about like a Fury, grabbing every bit of me down into a dark, burning, crushing place and won’t be appeased.

Not that I haven’t tried. I’ve taken every pain killer known to us (or so it seems); tried slippery elm; Chinese herbs; acupuncture; massage, and simply lying exhausted in the arms of my husband and parents. My much-appreciated palliative care team continue to chide me for failing to take enough drugs, soon enough. They are probably right. Latest research would suggest that I have an ‘attitude problem’ to pain: I don’t like taking tablets and think I should just grin and bear it until I break. I agree this is a stupid policy and, after several consecutive nights of excruciating pain have adapted it somewhat. So I am now taking, to my mind at least, hefty doses of opiates of one kind or another as well as laxatives and non-steroidals. I’ve found that paracetamol can be an amazingly effective drug. But it’s hard not to get constipated and end up dry retching at the least convenient times.”


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  • Siddhartha Yadav

    I loved reading Anna’s blogs. She wrote straight from her heart. She was well aware of her condition and yet she could be full of humour in her blogs and at the same time inspire hope for those reading it. A very brave and strong personality. May she rest in peace.

  • http://www.nerdoc.net Pranab Chatterjee

    As a fervent reader of Anna’s blog, and a subsequent follower of evidology, I find this blog quite similar to her previous ones. Though written through a miasma of intense pain, she somehow manages to convey a message to all her readers, that, touches all our hearts. This maybe her last post, but her spirit stays with us, through her words and thoughts.

  • Belinda

    What is it now, a year and a bit later? And I still miss her and can hear her voice as clear as a bell in every word she writes. I hope and believe her pain is now like the memory of a bad night during a gorgeous day.

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