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Dying with Dignity advocate Janet Cohen has a clear message for politicians – make the compassionate choice.
Janet has added her voice in support of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017.
“Make the change, vote with 75 per cent of Australians who want this legislation introduced for terminally ill people,” Janet said to the decision-makers.
Janet has shared her experience to add to the call for political change.
The Camden Haven resident had surgery, which appeared to be successful, after a cancer diagnosis in 2013.
The cancer came back in 2015. It is not curable but Janet is being treated with life-extending medication.
“That’s been an everyday miracle really,” she said about the medication.
The cancer journey is by no means straightforward.
There is loss – a loss of control, loss of choice and loss of options, she says.
“The final loss is that loss of independence and dignity that can happen at the end of life,” Janet said.
“I am not afraid of death but I am afraid of pain, and I am afraid of suffering and very concerned about that.
“I don’t want to die a protracted, painful death where I suffer, and unacceptably suffer.”
A 2016 report, which covered 106 Australian palliative care services, showed 22 to 25 per cent of patients died in moderate to severe pain.
MidNorth Coast Dying with Dignity NSW convener Annie Quadroy has called on MPs to recognise they have a strong political mandate given the successive assisted dying opinion poll results.
Janet echoes that position.
“Throughout your life the system supports you - our political system, our social system supports you to make informed choices,” she said.
“But at the end of life suddenly you don’t have any choice and that’s just not right.
“People are suffering unacceptably and I can’t see any reason why we should let that continue,” Janet said.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017, if supported, would establish a right for terminally ill NSW residents over the age of 25 to request and receive assistance to end their lives voluntarily.
The Bill is expected to go to the NSW Parliament Upper House in September.
Janet urges the community to voice their opinions to local politicians, as does MidNorth Coast Dying with Dignity NSW.
Close to 200 million people lived in places with some form of legal assisted dying by the end of 2016. The figure continues to rise. Australia is not one of those places.
Janet is investigating assisted dying services in Switzerland.
“For me, absolutely I am going to live as long as I can, as fully as I can with as much quality of life as I can,” Janet said.
“I don’t want to die but I want a good death and if I can be assured of getting a good death overseas, then that is what I am going to be forced to do.”
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