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.
5 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
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.