My dad should be allowed to die with dignity

I believe the law in the UK should be changed and euthansia should be available. My dad is 81, he has advanced prostate cancer which has spread into the bones and now, more recently the spine and I believe therefore, that he should be spared a horrible death and allowed to die with dignity.

There are many who would accuse me of being cold and callous and perhaps mercenary. After all isn’t that one of the biggest reasons why we don’t have euthanasia in this country; to prevent families from coercing their elderly relatives into agreeing to end their lives?

My dad has led a fantastic life. From poor beginnings in a small village near Derby his parents stole coal from the yard during the bitter winter of 1947. After his National Service spent in Cyprus he went to work for the Brush in Loughborough as an engineer. He wasn’t happy; he wanted to make something of his life and had high aspirations. His goal was to live in a house like the vicar! He gave a talk to his Methodist Church about his time in Cyprus and they encouraged him to send his story to the local paper. It was published and this small article catapulted him in a new direction. Believing in himself he applied for a job with the London Evening News and rose to become editor. He then went on to become the business editor of The Times and following set up a PR company and worked for people like Satachi and Satachi and companies like Lee Jeans.

My dad has been married twice. He has four children. He’s travelled widely. Most of all though he’s had lots of friends and was the life and soul of any party, making people laugh with his cutting remarks and bold conversation when most of us are too reserved to say exactly what we think.

My dad, like me believes the law in this country should be changed. Euthansia should be legal. The doctors have done so much for him. In his fifties he had a small stroke and had a pacemaker fitted to make his heart rhythm normal. He had ongoing problems with his knees from his fifties onwards and had to give up golf. But three years ago, following  stomach pains and many investigations  he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Most men will not die from prostate cancer. It’s more likely they will die with it. He was given hormone treatment. The cancer travelled into the bones but although he suffered with lots of pain, from that point on he was still able to lead a good life. He could drive, he could socialise and laugh and go on holiday and life was fun.

But the cancer then travelled into the bones, about two years ago. Nevertheless he coped remarkably well and although he was in pain, found it hard to get up, sit down and walk, life was still worth living. In recent weeks though we have seen a steady decline in his health and mental well being as a result. He has been doubly incontinent which has been very hard work for his partner who is 79 herself. In the midst of it all she suddenly became ill and I think this was triggered because of the huge stress she was under, looking after him. She’s a stoical woman though and carried on.

We have now been told that his cancer count has risen sharply and has entered the spine. Like many people in this sort of situation he has pleaded to be taken to Switzerland to end his life. I think he has reached the point where, if euthanasia was legal this is the ideal time to administer the drug – because the worst is yet to come and it won’t be very pleasant for him. Why should I sit back and watch this pointless suffering? Okay the doctors can dish out anti-depressants every time he mentions Switzerland and they can dose him up with morphine to alleviate the pain but personally I think this is far crueler. Why should people have to go through the worst part of their illness when they are in their 80s with only one passage out – death? By allowing euthanasia in my dad’s case we are merely hastening a death that is going to happen anyway and sparing him a lot of suffering. We wouldn’t treat an animal in this way.

The main reason we in the UK won’t agree to change the law is for religious reasons. We are a Christian country and our laws are said to be based on our beliefs. But according to a Yougov survey in 2015 only one third of us believe in God and the number of us saying we have no religion is rising.

To believe in the so called sanctity of life is outdated. Life is precious but only if it’s worth living and only if the person wants to live. To live in a deteriorating state is no fun at all. Who really wants to go through prolonged pain when there is no hope at the end of it?

Obviously it’s too late for my dad to be taken to Switzerland. He has recently been diagnosed with dementia and so is not of mental capacity to make this decision and so it’s very difficult but in principal if it had been possible I would have helped him go to Switzerland to end in a dignified way what has been a good, fulfilling life, while he still has a smile on his face and still recognises me.

Thank you for reading!


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