‘Let’s talk about treatment instead’
My husband Gerry was diagnosed with myeloma in 2015. Right from the start we knew that it was incurable, and that any treatment was life lengthening, not curative. The consultants told him that they could probably give him six more years.
Treatment for cancer is debilitating and difficult to bear, and sometimes the treatment can seem worse than allowing the disease to progress sooner to its natural conclusion. I believe there should be far more open discussions about whether to prolong life with invasive chemo – about the balance between length of life and quality of life.
A diagnosis of motor neurone disease or any other progressive and incurable disease is also difficult to bear. But I believe that assisted suicide is not the answer. It presents real danger to vulnerable people who are not able to access the support network that Gerry had, surrounded as he was by loving family, friends, and with access to an incredibly supportive GP and palliative care consultant.
I accept that the situation we have at present is far from perfect. But there are other ways to help suffering patients that do not carry the huge dangers of assisted suicide – both for patients and society more widely. I urge politicians not to take us down this path.