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Margaret John

Written by Margaret (who died November 2015)

I know that the time will come when there is no more effective treatment available and the end may well be undignified and painful.

I was diagnosed, in 2009 with Grade 3c Ovarian cancer. Treatable but not curable. This is the third time the cancer has recurred and I recently had a lumpectomy and a lymph node removed. My quality of life is good for now although my most recent chemotherapy did not work so after a short break I will be trying again.

I know that the time will come when there is no more effective treatment available…

I am a control freak and I’ve got to be in charge, but when you have cancer you can’t control it – it controls you. I know that the time will come when there is no more effective treatment available and the end may well be undignified and painful. I want to die in my own home, surrounded by my own things and at a time when my children and grandchildren have been able to say goodbye.

I have discussed my own circumstances with my GP and would not wish to place him (or any of his partners) in the position of having to break the law in order to fulfill my desire for a dignified and comfortable end to life. I do not want to die in a hospice. I support my local hospice and they do sterling work but it is not for me. No one can give me dignity, it is my position that dignity is something I feel and I do not want to be cared for at the end by strangers, no matter how kind or caring they may be.

As I don’t have the funds to, and don’t even want to go abroad to be assisted to die, the only real option for controlling my death would be to end my life myself.

I have no desire to die before I need to in order to be able to do so with dignity and without asking my family or my doctor to break the law. I have no desire, and could not afford, to go abroad to die as my body is to be donated to my Alma Mater for education and research purposes and this would not be possible from Switzerland, furthermore I have found the coverage of Dignitas to be an industrial view of death and not dignified.

However, at the moment I can’t even ask my GP for more information on what I can do to control my future suffering and death without fearing he will be prosecuted. As I don’t have the funds to, and don’t even want to go abroad to be assisted to die, the only real option for controlling my death would be to end my life myself. I have tried to research this but I don’t know anything about pharmaceuticals and don’t trust the information on the internet (there are people selling medications that they say will end life – there’s no way of knowing if it will work and they charge a lot of money – they could just be con artists). Amateur Assistance from my family might well cause me more distress, fail to achieve the purpose and increase rather than decrease my suffering and theirs! I couldn’t risk them being prosecuted either. It would be very reassuring to know that I could talk to my GP about what I could take to control my death if my suffering became unbearable towards the end, or even to talk to him more generally about assisted dying without putting him at risk of prosecution.

Ideally I want a change in the law so that, when there is no longer any treatment and palliative care is not making the pain tolerable, I would be able to ask my GP for something that I can administer myself at a time of my choosing without the fear that in fulfilling my wishes I am placing him or her at risk of prosecution.

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