I am a 59 year old R.N. Division 1 nurse with 34 years' experience and throughout my whole career I had contact with palliative patients. The last 4 years I was solely in contact with advanced cancer and palliative clients. In May of 2012 I received the shock diagnosis of malignant, disseminated Gastro-Oesophageal cancer Stage 4. The cancer had spread to my liver and lymph nodes without any warning.
It is my experience that I will have a very difficult and unpleasant death under the current palliative care guidelines and pathways. I have been attendant at many deaths and I myself do not want to spend days in bed being totally dependent receiving Morphine and Midazolam keeping me sedated whilst my body wastes away with my family in attendance. I am currently 52 kilograms, a loss of 28 kilograms from my 80 kilograms at diagnosis. I am 6 foot tall.
I am supportive of the current Palliative Care guidelines up until the terminal phase as I have seen many patients die with obstructions in their gastro-intestinal tract especially with cancers that have metastasised. Cancer being a leading cause of death in Australia.
After long thought and careful consideration I joined Dying with Dignity Victoria and decided to go public with my story. I have had two stories about my situation published in The Age newspaper in November of last year and also this year. I have obtained the means to end my life at an appropriate date and time to spare me and my family the pain and indignity that faces me. I do not want to use this and hope that I will die from a catastrophic event i.e. AMI etc, which is quite possible given my current state of health after 3 separate chemotherapy cycles.
It is my fervent hope that the recommendations of the Committee are in favour for change and support legislative change as you and I will help thousands of Australians to avoid the pain, physical and psychological, and the indignity that they and their families currently face under the current medical system.
Ray Godbold, July 2015
Ray wrote this letter as a submission to the Inquiry into End of Life Choices in Victoria.
He died on August 13 2015.
Ray featured in a story for the podcast Better off Dead.
Click here to access the podcast.
Photos: Jon Tjhia; Justin McManus, The Age