Living for the dying
Ilora Finlay is a consultant and professor of palliative medicine. She is also Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a member of the UK House of Lords and president of the Royal Society of Medicine. She shares some thoughts with David Metcalfe
I was aware of the life threatening nature of disease from a young age. My brother and my father nearly died, and in my early teens my friend's brother died of meningitis. I always have hated seeing people suffer. But as a junior doctor we had received no training in how to care for dying patients, and I still feel ashamed that we did not even know how to relieve pain adequately—many patients were simply left isolated in a hospital room to die. While working as a general practitioner I began volunteering in my spare time at a local hospice, and when an opportunity arose to set up a hospice for Marie Curie it made sense to follow what I cared passionately about. I took a leap in the dark and applied for the job.
With great difficulty. I can only really manage these three responsibilities because I am lucky