British Columbian woman with cancer who was offered euthanasia, successfully treated in the U.S.

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Amy Judd and Kylie Stanton reported for Global News on November 27 a BC woman who was diagnosed with abdominal cancer was offered MAiD (euthanasia) rather than treatment was successfully treated in the US.

The article begins by stating:

Allison Ducluzeau has just returned from a dream trip to Hawaii where she married the love of her life on the beach. But it was a wedding she couldn’t even imagine earlier this year.

The article explains that Ducluzeau started feeling abdominal pain around Thanksgiving 2022 (October 10). The pain persisted so Ducluzeau started seeking tests for her problem.

But she was told it would take weeks to get an appointment for an ultrasound and CT scan. The pain was so bad that in November she ended up in the emergency room. Judd and Stanton report:

“I didn’t get to sleep one night and I woke up my now husband and said, I think we better go to emergency. So we did. And when I was there, I got a CT scan or I was booked for one the next day and the results of the CT scan indicated it looked like it might be something called peritoneal carcinomatosis, which is abdominal cancer.”

The article explains that after two CT-guided biopsies that Ducluzeau was diagnosed as having Stage 4 peritoneal carcinomatosis and she was referred to the BC Cancer Agency. Her family doctor told her that ‘with this type of cancer, they usually do a procedure called HIPEC, which involves delivering high doses of chemotherapy into the abdomen to kill the cancer cells.

The article states that a surgeon with BC Cancer told her that:

“Chemotherapy is not very effective with this type of cancer, …It only works in about 50 per cent of the cases to slow it down. And you have a life span of what looks like to be two months to two years.

The Surgeon told her to talk to her family and get her affairs in order and asked her if she wanted medical assistance in dying (euthanasia).

Ducluzeau was floored by the news. She said it was the worst day of her life having to tell her kids and knowing that her mother had recently died. Instead Ducluzeau decided to everything she could to find treatment.

To move the story along, Ducluzeau found several places where she could receive treatment and she was successfully treated at the Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy Medical Centre in Baltimore.

Before going ahead with treatment ‘she called BC Cancer to ask how long it might be to see the oncologist and was told it could be weeks, months, or longer, they had no idea.’

Ducluzeau is doing well now and thanks the team at Mercy Medical Center for their care. She told the reporters:

“I feel 100 per cent,” she said. “Some days even better. There is nothing that I did before I got sick that I can’t do now. I mean, I can ride my bike 15 kilometres and go have dinner with friends and ride home afterwards. I can golf 18 holes without feeling tired. I started running again and I haven’t run for 10 years.”

She said she was back at work a month after having her surgery. But the financial burden is still weighing heavily on her.

Ducluzeau is trying to get her medical bills paid by the BC Ministry of Health but she received a letter from the BC Cancer Agency stating:

“the services you chose to receive in the U.S. would not have been the recommended treatment for your cancer diagnosis.”

I guess euthanasia (MAiD) was the preferred treatment in BC because that is all Ducluzeau was actually offered.

Ducluzeau ended the article by stating she is trying to focus on married life and taking it day by day.

“I’m calling this my bonus round and I’m just trying to find joy in every day.”

There are a few take-aways from this story.

1.       For most Canadians it is not an option to go to Baltimore for treatment.

2.       Euthanasia (MAiD) was offered as the treatment of choice since she wasn’t actually offered any other options.