Our father/husband, Kenneth Stanley Dickson, aged 81, was suffering terribly with his third bout of cancer. Fifteen months ago Dad was diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer and wasn’t expected to live three months, but instead he suffered another 12 months. This cancer is a slow and painful death sentence.
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 kilos. 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.
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.
If an animal is suffering to this extent you would ‘put them down’. Surely we can do this for our terminally ill loved ones. Dad would want us to follow up on his note and keep the euthanasia debate going until hopefully one day it will be legalised so that people who have suffered, and will continue to suffer with a terminal illness in the future, can leave this life with the dignity that they also deserve.
Dad was a devoted and dedicated Christian. Towards the end he became a strong supporter for euthanasia to be legalised in Australia. It was tearing Dad apart to watch his family trying to keep him as comfortable as possible. He didn’t want to be a burden. That was the kind of man he was.
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.
We all realise that there would need to be very strict guidelines if euthanasia was to be legalised in Australia, but surely people who have a terminal illness with no chance of a cure and suffering like our dad did would fit into this category. Euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Netherlands and parts of the USA – why not in Australia!!
- Joan, Julie, Mark, Jo, Christine, Bradley and Jason, first published in The Damage Done, August 2016
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.