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Our Story

“To make the least of dying and most of living.”

The DTU Story

As a Radiation oncologist, it’s my job to care for people who have cancer. I love my work, and as a part of an amazing team, we sometimes cure cancers but sadly, not always. While it’s easy to celebrate a patient who has been cured, the conversation is very different when someone is not cured.

In my experience, I have found the conversations with people who can’t be cured to be one of the most difficult things I have to do. When you are told that your life is ending, nothing else matters at that moment, apart from ‘escape’. This is the first line of defence—shock and denial—and many people ‘escape’ at this point. They often stay in denial and ignore the relevance of death and the difficulty of dying for the rest of their life. This loss is not only applicable to patients and their families, it is equally relevant to healthcare providers who also feel loss and disappointment. They also prefer not to bring up the difficult topic of death.

Talking about dying is one of the most important discussions a person can have. At Dying to Understand, we’re more than happy to have this conversation. By talking about dying we can put death in its right place.

By confronting death, we can be empowered to get on with life and hopefully, when the time comes, have a good death.

Dying to Understand has been in development for over 10 years. To have the conversation about dying; to say it’s normal, that it’s okay to die and to offer companionship and advice on this often-lonely journey takes time, and this is what we’re all about. I first released my book About Dying: how to live in the face of death, in 2014 to introduce a discussion about dying. The positive feedback I received was incredible. It was this that encouraged me to persevere with the concept of Dying to Understand.

After a lot of learning and re-thinking we have redesigned Dying to Understand.  Now as a registered charity, our aim is to offer ‘Death Education’ and provide a community resource for those facing death. Our resources are aimed at people directly facing death or those indirectly dealing with death as family members, partners, friends or healthcare providers.

We cannot do it alone. Your contributions are essential. Your story counts, as does every story. The more we speak about dying and living, the easier the journey becomes. If one can do it, then we all can do it. Please help us as a community by sharing your feedback, insight and story.

We have chosen a membership model to provide this resource for two reasons. Firstly, this model funds our work so we don’t have to be annoying and keep asking for money. The second reason is that membership provides opportunity for a safe community because we can get rid of ‘unwanted guests’. Our resources are building, and we hope that the value we provide exceeds the financial contribution we ask from you.

Please consider our work and what we are trying to achieve. Please add your story because it is valuable. I encourage you to join as a member and to be part of the conversation.

Thank you for your time spent with us today. Please feel free to contact me at

Governance - Dr Colin

Dr Colin Dicks.
MBChB, FRANZCR, MBA, MSc Palliative Medicine.

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