It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Rhonda Taylor, a much loved and fearless public face of the campaign for voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia.
Rhonda, who had lived for several years with terminal cancer, died on 14 March in Perth.
In a Facebook post, her daughter, Jess, said the death was peaceful. "It was peaceful, painless and she had family by her side," she wrote.
Rhonda was a tireless campaigner for voluntary assisted dying, becoming one of the "faces" of the push for law reform in WA when she courageously told her story to media in the final stages of the campaign.
She knew the WA laws would not come in time to help her, but that they would be an incredible comfort to others.
A Change.org petition in her name calling on MPs to stay the course and pass the laws collected more than 50,000 signatures.
Jess said Rhonda had asked her to thank all her friends who had sent messages of support: "I read them all to her as you sent them, and I believe that she heard them."
Shortly after her death, Go Gentle Australia's founding director Andrew Denton, wrote to Rhonda's family to pass on his and Go Gentle's condolences:
I never met Rhonda. But we did swap some texts and - in January - a phone call. I will never forget it.
Rhonda knew she was in her last months. Did she want to talk about that? No way.
What Rhonda wanted to talk about was her friend Bernie and would I ring her as a birthday surprise? Of course, I said.
The gratitude Rhonda expressed, that I had agreed to help ‘blow Bernie’s mind’, was profound. Yet it was me who put down the phone shaking my head. What a woman.
All of us at Go Gentle thought that. I will remember how profoundly moved our WA Campaign Manager, Joey Armenti, was when Rhonda put herself forward to campaign publicly for VAD law reform. Who does that? Who spends precious hours and days, knowing that is maybe all they have left, stepping out on behalf of others? Rhonda did.
What a woman. What a woman.
We feel blessed to have been in her orbit, however briefly. May the universe kiss her soul.
- Andrew Denton, Go Gentle.