NEW - Pat Leigh
Pat Leigh's story
My husband died on 2 March 2011 after a short but painful stay in hospital. By the time a decision was made to move him to a hospice he was too weak and we were informed that he would probably not survive the short journey. What Rod went through in his last days was barbaric and should never have happened.
I was with him all the time for the last few days of his life. One night when I asked for more morphine for him, he waited 3/4 of an hour before it was administered. When the nurse questioned me as to my husband's need for more pain relief he stated that he had not been written up for more. I said, at this stage of his illness, does it really matter, to which the nurse replied - "I'm not risking my career". This did happen about 11pm one evening so I suppose a doctor was not readily available in the hospital - but it beggars belief that this is happening in this day and age.
Shortly after my husband's death I received a letter from an old friend saying he had just been discharged from hospital with exactly the same cancer as my husband had - advanced bowel cancer. Obviously he was stunned. Several weeks later I heard from a mutual friend that our friend had died - he had in fact taken his own life. He decided to end his own life rather than go through the pain he knew was ahead of him. I am still so angry that that was the only choice he felt he had. In fact he had no other choice did he? Our law currently criminalises assistance to die for terminally ill people, despite their wishes for a dignified painfree death. His daughter sent me copies of letters he left for the police - they are heartbreaking.
I believe that the option of an assisted death, in addition to good quality palliative care should be made available to terminally ill people seeking comfort and dignity at the end of their lives. My husband suffered unbearably at the end of his life; and my friend sadly chose to end his life prematurely in anticipation of his suffering. They both should have been allowed greater choice and control over the time and manner of their deaths.
Something has got to be done - the law must change.
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