It has now been a year since my daughter Katie died an excruciating death from sarcoma on 20th July at the age of just 46. The impact of her death was the catalyst that spurred me into campaigning for assisted dying to be brought into law as a choice for the terminally ill, knowing all the while that I would not likely benefit from any change.
On the day in 2020 that Katie was told her own cancer was terminal, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis. I cared for her knowing that I may soon meet the same agonising end, despite the heroic efforts of the NHS and hospice care.
My cancer knows no cure. I have tried all I can to stop or slow its progression. But my situation has now changed. I have, after long discussions with the consultants that have been caring for me, agreed to stop the chemotherapy. It is no longer working, and the side effects are debilitating.
It’s been a relief to have made the decision to stop the treatment, although how much longer I will survive for is a piece of string.
Since I came out of hospital on Friday 23rd July, my health has deteriorated further. I am now practically bed-bound. I have no appetite. I have not eaten any real quantity of food for two weeks, and when I do I feel nauseous and have constant visits to the toilet.
I sleep a lot and on awakening I feel almost normal, until I try and move. This is my life, my daily routine and it’s only going to get worse.
I have many dear and close friends who give me loads of moral support, my son Matt and his family are always in contact to brighten my day. It is the one thing that upsets me the most; that I won’t get to see my grandchildren grow up.
My GP is putting a care package in place with district nurses and the local hospice, to support my wife Sue as well as me. We had to witness Katie’s suffering and the horrific death she had to endure; I do not want my family to have to go through all of that again with me just a year later.
Whilst I have always spoken out against suicide, I have to be honest and say that I have contemplated it, knowing that I am going to get worse. But I would only be putting the family in more turmoil.
Why are the terminally ill put into this situation? Why can’t we, in this day and age, be given the option of an assisted death – a calm dignified exit, with our loved ones around us and medical support?
I can’t emphasize just how important this is for us, our families and all those in the future who will find themselves in the terrible situation I now find myself in.
Public support is in our favour, MPs increasingly so as well. I call on the next Prime Minister to listen to people like me, and to ensure that an assisted dying bill that offers dying people choice can be properly considered by Parliament.
We have the opportunity to change the law, and we cannot afford to lose it.
– David Minns is terminally ill with multiple myeloma
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