Radio personality Howard Sattler says he hopes to be one of the first to make use of Western Australia’s voluntary assisted dying law when it comes into effect in July this year.
Sattler, who lives in WA, has the rare and terminal brain disorder progressive supranuclear palsy, also called Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome. The disease causes serious problems with walking, balance and eye movements, and, eventually, swallowing.
Doctors initially thought he had Parkinson’s disease when he began slurring his speech on air, but was later diagnosed with PSP.
“It was like a bolt out of the blue, I didn’t believe it,” he has told radio 6PR’s Steve Mills in a rare interview.
“I don’t get the shakes, but it’s much more aggressive than Parkinson’s and it’s going to kill me one day.”
Sattler said even though he didn’t handle the PSP diagnosis “too well” he decided to “fight it like mad”.
“People said I should just give up, go with the flow and just go downhill, but I’m not inclined to do that. I’m going to fight it to the end.”
Listen to Sattler's 6PR interview below
He told 6PR that his wife now provides full time care for him, with the assistance of registered carers.
“It’s been very tough on her, she has had to give up her work virtually as well.”
During the 2019 campaign to legalise voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in Western Australia, Sattler worked with Go Gentle Australia to lobby for change. He said he hoped to be one of the first people to use the new law when it came into force so he could “bow out gently, with dignity”.
“I still feel that way,” he told 6PR. “I’m not the person I used to be. I think I’m going blind at the moment because I can barely keep my eyes open. That’s another problem I have to address.”
Sattler featured in Go Gentle Australia’s The Broken Hearted documentary, which told the stories of traumatised Western Australians who had watched loved ones suffer unnecessarily as they died.
He told the filmmakers the issue of assisted dying was not about religion, but about providing terminally ill people an option that did not force them to suffer needlessly, or to die, violently and alone.
“It would mean to me I could make a choice myself. I could get people around me who I love. And we could do it properly.”
Watch Sattler's The Broken Hearted interview
Go Gentle Australia believes every terminally ill person, no matter where they live, should have the same fundamental right to access more compassionate end-of-life choices, including Voluntary Assisted Dying.
Join our campaign for a better conversation around end-of-life choices, including VAD laws in every Australian state and territory.