By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
As New Zealand debates a euthanasia referendum, a woman dying of cancer is urging New Zealanders to Vote NO to euthanasia saying people could be coerced into an early death.
Vicki Walsh, who is now 53, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme in June 2011.
The aggressive brain cancer is nicknamed “The Terminator” and those who have it typically die within 14 months of diagnosis.
But nine years later, Vicki is still around, living near Palmerston North with her husband and two adult children.
She has been taking the drug Avastin – which has cost her $24,000 – and the mass in her brain has halved.
“I was always told there was nothing more that could be done,” she said. “So in eight years, nine years, things have changed, so I got another surgery, I got radiation and now we’re having this drug that we’re paying for.”
There was a time when Vicki wanted to end her life.
She said she watched people, who were battling the same illness overseas, choose euthanasia and felt she should take her own life.
“I actually felt kind of gutless, I was looking at my husband and we were trying to keep life normal and I had a bit of a stroke and it ended up really, really big and I just felt that this is it for me,” she said
“It had been several weeks, it wasn’t just an overnight thing, and I just thought, if this is how it’s going to be, I don’t want to live like this anymore.”
But Vicki changed her mind in the last moment.
Had she gone through with it, she said she would have missed out on watching her grandchildren grow up.
“If you’d asked me if I want to live like I am now, I would have viewed my life 15 years ago as not having much of a quality of life now,” she said. “I love my life, you know, I love my life.”
Vicki is concerned that legalizing euthanasia will lead to coercion
But Vicki’s greatest fear is that people will feel pressured to end their lives earlier than they need to.
“The coercion thing is one of biggest concerns for me about this bill. People say it wouldn’t happen – well we already have an elderly abuse problem in this country,” she said.
“So I already know what I feel like, like my family don’t make me feel like a burden, but I also feel like a burden sometimes and I’m not getting that pressure.”
Editor’s note. This appeared at Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.