Episode 55: Demystifying Death with Hospice Nurse Julie & Katie Coleman

In this episode, we embark on a profound exploration of death with the help of two remarkable individuals. Katie Coleman bravely shares her experience as a survivor of Stage IV liver cancer, a path fraught with uncertainty and a lack of available information. Julie McFadden is a hospice nurse whose daily encounters with death provide unique insights. She educates online audiences about various topics surrounding death. Join us as we unpack the mystery surrounding death: the process, the taboos, doctor and patient relationships, and more.

    Julie McFadden, BSN, RN

    Julie McFadden, BSN, RN, has been a nurse for 15 years.  Julie is an experienced ICU, and now hospice/palliative nurse. Julie has been passionate about normalizing death through education to the masses using social media. She has been featured in Newsweek, USA today, The Atlantic, and several other articles worldwide. Her TikTok has 1.4M followers, and you can find her on all social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube) at Hospice Nurse Julie. Julie’s new book is coming out in June: Nothing To Fear.

    Katie Coleman

    Katie Coleman is a patient advocate who was diagnosed with a rare stage IV kidney cancer in Dec 2020, at the age of 29. She has shared her diagnosis publicly on social media to spread awareness and to advocate for others with kidney cancer and rare diseases. Since being diagnosed, she has also founded a non-profit, started a podcast and is publishing an upcoming memoir, which you can preorder here. You can find her on social media here: TikTok, Instagram, Youtube and Twitter).

    Watch the video of our episode on YouTube

    • 10 minutes:

      “At first it felt wrong. I felt like just as a society, we have a hard time talking about death. Understandably so, it's hard, right? It triggers not only our own fears, but it also triggers emotions and sadness from people that we've lost. And so they're difficult conversations to have. But it felt like, especially because there's so much of the fight mentality around cancer, that saying that to anybody else felt like I'm giving up and it felt like I'm not willing to fight. I'm letting people down. Not only am I now dealing with the crippling anxiety of death and dying, but now I'm also dealing with the crippling anxiety of letting people down by even saying and acknowledging those feelings…? But for me, it came from like, first I was terrified to look into anything. It just felt like I was doing something wrong by trying to investigate what it was like to die. But then once I got over that, where I personally found a lot of peace when I started hearing about near death experiences and end of life visions that Julie often talks about.”

    • 19 minutes:

      “Our bodies without us even trying will do things to help us die and make it peaceful… The body makes you not hungry. The body makes you not thirsty. The body makes you sleep. The more you do that, the more you get in that cycle of not eating, drinking, and sleeping, your body goes into a ketosis cycle, which is different. It's not different than the diet, but with the diet you're still eating, so separate those two. But you can go into a ketosis where you actually feel euphoric. You actually have a natural pain analgesic that makes you feel better. So just biologically, to me, it is miraculous to have learned that being a hospice nurse and to see it with my own eyes. So like as an ICU nurse, you get so zoned in when you're in healthcare about which section of healthcare you're in, you know? So you're so used to being a certain way in an ICU nurse, giving all the fluids, doing all the things that you don't learn the other things, at least I didn't. So to see this shift in how being dry or being dehydrated at the end of life can be helpful was eye-opening. I never would have known that as an ICU nurse. Witnessing these biological processes made me realize how amazing our bodies are.”

    • 22 minutes:

      “All I know is in watching people die a natural death, people need to know about this. People need to know about what it looks like and what happens to our bodies because it's not as scary as we think. And then when I think of my own mortality and I think about if I got diagnosed with something terminal tomorrow, I'm still human. I'm gonna have all the feelings, anger, sadness, scared. I'm still gonna be scared, but I also know that my body will take care of me. My body will take care of me. And I know that because I've witnessed it.”

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