"I treasure that apostrophe..."

"It's so much worse than I had imagined."

--

After much thought I am forwarding to you one of the last messages my dearest friend wrote, three weeks before she died from motor neurone disease (MND), surely one of the cruelest of deaths.

My hesitancy comes not because I do not wholly support your campaign, I do, and so did my friend, but from the sadness which is still raw, even after nearly two years. But perhaps two years is an indicator that the grief should be directed more constructively. It is about how long my dear friend lived after her diagnosis, a classic prognosis for MND.

Her wish was to die at home and with the best possible support from her husband, daughters and friends and an excellent palliative care team – that is what she did.

During her illness she explored the Dignitas option for which she was accepted, and she wrote to me saying what comfort this gave her. But classically when she could go to Switzerland, she wasn’t ready and when she was ready she was too ill to travel. Other options were explored too but finally she altruistically decided to leave her brain and spinal cord for research and in this interest to see the disease to its natural end. Her enormous courage and stoicism in the face of extraordinary mental anguish and physical discomfort at every level is, I think, underlined by the scrawled message in her barely recognisable hand. Highly intelligent and erudite, even in the extreme effort to write when she could no longer speak, she still got the grammar right. I treasure that apostrophe!

She wanted me to use the photo I took of her message to advance the case for dying with dignity and her family is happy for it to be so used.

I hope it will be a useful addition to your evidence so that one day compassionate legislation will be passed.

---- Elisabeth Inglis

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"Dad left behind a note..."

"Dear Joan,

Sorry to go this way but until the Govt don't pass the law and find a better way to help with the side effects or the pain manage the effects of the side effects that go with it sorry I have no alternative but to go this way

love Ken xxx"

Our beautiful Dad took his own life on Friday 9 October 2015 at the home he shared with mum and Down Syndrome son, Jason. Dad left behind a note expressing his desperation to the end. All he wanted was for someone to help end his suffering so that he could die in peace with dignity which is what he deserved.

Our father/husband Kenneth Stanley Dickson aged 81 was suffering terribly with his third bout of cancer. Although Dad was on a lot of medication there were days when it just wasn’t enough and the side effects of the medications were unbearable. Dad got down to a weight of just 45 kgs. Dad was a true gentleman, loved and respected by everyone who knew him. It hurt Dad’s dignity and pride that his daughters and wife had to shower him and change his soiled pants, but we would do it all again for him tomorrow.

Dad was a devoted and dedicated Christian. Towards the end he became a strong supporter for euthanasia to be legalised in Australia.

What dad went through, especially in the end, was horrific. He made the heartbreaking decision to take his own life hanging himself in the backyard. Jason, who is Down Syndrome, was the one to find dad and that made the situation even worse, if that was possible. Jason is still saying that dad is coming home soon, he just doesn’t understand.

--- Family of Ken Dickson: Joan, Julie, Mark, Jo, Christine, Bradley and Jason

Do you have a story?

We are so grateful to everyone who has shared their stories with us so far. If you have a story you would like to share with us, please get in touch via the link below. Your story will not be made public if you would prefer.

Share your story


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