Nicky tells her story:
There has been so much publicity around the sensitive subject of assisted dying, but in my view the subject is suppressed by either people who would rather bury their heads in the sand, pro lifers or religious organisations. I don't have an issue with people standing up for what they truly believe in; the fact is I rather admire it. But this is an issue affecting real people on a daily basis, as my story will highlight, and it is me who is suffering because the debate is being stifled by people whose views are unchangeable.
I am a 47 year old woman with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and would be considered more than capable of making serious decisions.
Having had MS for 26 years, we have had to learn how to deal with the unpredictability of the condition. Every time another bit of my body stops functioning properly I have to go through a grieving process, so I liken it to a form of bereavement. The very nature of a progressive condition is it will only worsen, I will never get better. I am likely to die from a symptom of my condition.
As a true optimist I will naturally continue to embrace life but there may come a time when my quality of life will be so poor that I shall decide enough is enough.
I realise that assisted dying may be open to abuse but with rigorous controls in place this could be avoided. I don't want to have to 'sneak' off to another country to die earlier than needs be, I want to prolong my life for as long as possible and would like the chance to say goodbye to the people I love and die peacefully and with dignity in my own Country. The reality is that, in the not to distant future, I will be denied that option as travelling will be impossible. I was born in England and will one day want to end my life legally in England.
Interestingly enough a very large percentage of people who look into Dignitas do not follow it through, I assume it's just comforting to know it is a real option.
I have single handily managed to change the views of many people on this subject from friends, a staunch Catholic sister in law, my own MP and most importantly my husband. Not one of them shared my view and yet they do now, because they have witnessed part of a day in 'my world'. If I have managed to change the views of so many why can't the people who have the power open up their own minds to give people like me the choice of when to terminate my own life and end my pain and suffering, in my own Country.
Only my husband and I know what it is truly like living with my condition. In the evening when our friends have departed it is time to go to bed and his day is not over he is tired but he still has to undress me, wash me, put me on and off the lavatory, wash my hands, clean my teeth, put me into bed and finally he is allowed some time off and can obtain a much needed rest from having to deal with me. Then... it all starts again the next morning the routine is endless.
In our society we will put an animal to sleep to end their pain and suffering, we need to show the same compassion to those people who are suffering at the end of their lives, and give them a choice to be allowed to die should their suffering become unbearable to them.
Should you want to contact any of the people featured in these pages, or wish to share your own story with us, please contact Jo Cartwright:
020 7479 7737 or 07725 433 025