Euthanasia This was one of the topics JaneRA suggested for debate and we haven’t debated it, so I thought I’d start things off.

This is prompted by the case of a retired GP with Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy (PSP) who was helped to die on the evening of her 67th birthday by Dignitas, the Swiss based Euthanasia organisation.

PSP is an incurable, degenerative disease and patients live for an average of 7 years after diagnosis, according to the PSP Association. The Dr wanted to die before her condition degenerated to the stage where she was completely helpless.

A spokesman for the Christian Medical Fellowship said “ this tragic case involves a lady in the early stages of a disease which is not usually fatal Which contradicts the 7 year survival mentioned above.

So, I think one of the questions about Euthanasia, is, is it better to live in a condition where you are completely dependent on other people or is it better to have the choice to die when you want, while there is no doubt about your capability to make the decision and when you want to go before your quality of life becomes unacceptable to you? I suppose it depends whether you think being completely helpless is a living death or whether you can have some quality of life. It’s a very personal decision. I tend to think that if you’ve got a degenerative, terminal illness, you should be helped to go when you’re ready, but that’s based on having no personal experience of knowing anyone with such a disease.

This is only one of the situations that causes debate about euthanasia. Another example is the case of Terri Schiavo. She was the previously healthy US woman who suffered brain damage after a heart attack at a young age and her husband and parents battled for years over whether she should be helped to die. Her husband won and she was allowed to die. I think it was probably for the best to let her go. She appeared to have no quality of life, but I think it may have been kinder to have given her drugs to help her die rather than starving her, which is what happened. Did she have any pain or discomfort as a result of being starved? Who can say? And who was looking after her best interests, her husband, parents or none of them?

Medical technology is wonderful at keeping people alive when they have had accidents or are born with serious health problems, but is it life or a living death? Should people only be kept alive when they can live a relatively normal life? But doctors probably can’t predict who can lead a relatively normal life and there will be many different views as to what “normal life means.

It’s a very difficult area and it would be interesting to know what people who’ve worked in palliative care think about it.

Give us a break PLEASE Daphne

I normally find your posts very interesting but this one is too much for me at the moment. I am alone in the house on a grey winter’s morning struggling to cope with the fact, constantly re-iterated on these forums, that triple negative bc comes back much earlier than the other kinds (this means it never went away despite chemotherapy and other horrible treatments) and trying desperately to cope with all these gloomy facts.

The last thing I want to read about is Euthanasia. I absolutely do not want to hear accounts of it from people who have worked in palliative care. There must be a place for these accounts but is it on forums claiming to offer support for people with bc? I personally can’t cope with the thought of any of this at the moment. I know this means I am not coping with my diagnosis and prognosis as well as everyone else. But there it is. I’m not.

Best wishes

Thanks Daphne Hi Daphne

Thanks for raising this important issue. I have long been a supporter of voluntary euthanasia and joined VES (Voluntary Euthanasia Society) a year ago. VES has recently changed its name to Dignity in Dying. A major campaign at the moment is to support Lord Joffe’s Bill called the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill (ADTI) which will return to the House of Lords in the Spring for its second reading. The Bill is unlikely to be passed but will be an important vehicle for rasing public knowledge and understanding of this critical issue.

I know this is a controversial issue…and can be a painful one, but I think a healthy debate on the complex issues can only do good. I admire the woman who chose to die this week and to publicise her decision in such an open and honest way. Best wishes to her family.


Roisin I know it’s a difficult subject, but people, including those with breast cancer have very different views about discussing it, as is obvious from the differing views on yours and Jane’s posts.

It’s inevitable that the Current issues/Hot Topics section is going to have some controversial stuff in it, but If nobody wants to discuss this topic, this thread will wither on the vine anyway and I’ll know that it’s just Jane and me that are interested in discussing it and we can carry on outside the forum, if we want to.

Also, I don’t think it’s the case that you aren’t coping with your diagnosis and prognosis as well as everyone else. You are coping in your own way. Like everyone diagnosed with BC, you have no alternative. There isn’t (and certainly shouldn’t be) any definition of coping well or not coping well.

best wishes


Daphne I do not object to anyone discussing euthanasia. But it should be discussed in context. I don’t think that the case of the doctor which has been very highly publicised elsewhere adds much to our knowledge of dying from bc. She had a very different disease and a really awful and long-drawn out death. As I understand it, from reading accounts of people dying from bc, ours will be very different.

On the subject of euthanasia in general I do not think that I want to read accounts from those who have worked in palliative care. These forums are full of accounts of the ways in which members of the health and medical care professions have let people down.

Do we really think there would be any less mistakes/uncaring practitioners in charge of the euthanasia ward? This is one of the reasons why I do not, and never would support euthanasia. I do not make a distinction between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia because it is precisely in this area that terrible misunderstandings and mistakes occur.

The other reason I do not support euthanasia is because I believe the right to life is sacred and in secular terms inalienable. I believe the latter is still enshrined in the Hippocratic oath and long may it remain so.

Best wishes

Opening the debate The word euthanasia actually means ’ a good death’ but one of the reasons VES has changed its name to Dignity in Dying is to reflect the range of work done by the group. It campaigns on many end of life issues, inclding patient choice, Living Wills, and the withholding and withdrawal of tretament…not just voluntary euthanasia.

Getting breast cancer has focused my thoughts and ideas on this issue…one that I’ve always supported. If I get a recurrence I will take the treatments on offer but there will come a time when inevitably they will fail, and I will become iller, and I would like at that point to decide the timing of my death…to leave life easily maybe a few weeks or even a few months earlier rather than struggling through a painful death. What is so wrong in wishing this for myself? I reckon I’ll know when the time feels right for me. I have a Living Wil, my partner knows my wishes but would risk prosecution if she helped me die…this is quite wrong.

I am not religious. I think this life is wonderful…I value and respect life and being alive…and death is a part of life. I know there must be safeguards if the law is changed, I know that some people have ethical objections to the right to be helped to die. This is indeed a profound ethical issue…and ethically I believe a change in the law is right. But its not only atheists like myself who support vountary euthanasia. In the latest VES newsletter Reverend Jonathan Clatworthy wrote: “Ethical norms often get stuck…when people are suffering…we should not oblige them to ritualise our collective failure to understand death.”

Hope this won’t just be a three way debate.

Best wishes


i’m pleased that this topic has started up.

i wrestle with different opinions on it every day. but when it comes down to it, i wouldn’t let any animal suffer and to think of a person suffering when there is only one end, i think i’m inclined to agree with voluntary euthanasia.

a very close family member died from cancer (not bc) a few years ago. she had always said that she didn’t want to suffer, yet ended up, when the time came, hanging on for 2 weeks - when she was conscious she was in pain. she had never wanted that, and it tore the hearts out of my family who were there at the time.

my mum is stage iv. she also strongly feels that voluntary euthanasia should be allowed.

we are a christian family, yet for me, my beliefs aren’t compromised by my agreement to euthanasia… i probably have as many wrangles over God as i do over this issue when it comes down to it though :slight_smile:

i know there are oh so many pitfalls to any legislation being brought in, and i would never suggest that there are simple answers. but maybe if more people start debating in this way, one day we won’t have to see terminally ill people who wish for this, having to travel hundreds of miles to switzerland to die in unfamiliar surroundings.

Romanticised view of euthenasia Jane

I don’t want to hog the forum so I will make this my last contribution to this debate but I do have to say that there is a highly romanticised view of euthenasia running through it. The reality of euthenasia will, when it is enevitably legalised on cost cutting grounds, be very different from the ‘good death’ you envisage.

Can we really believe that an NHS system which is so pushed for bed space that it sends people home before they are fully recovered in many cases , doesn’t fund life-saving drugs etc can be trusted to let us choose when we want to die whilst we will be occupying beds doing so?

Best wishes

Palliative care. I’m also glad you have started this thread Daphne.
I’m still in a muddle with euthenasia, I’ve lived a good life, it’s over 2 years since I was first given my terminal diagnosis. I have no pain at all, feel so very well, just take an Arimidex every morning. Life is normal.
I do remember feeling terribly depressed when I was first told I would be receiving palliative care but so far palliative care has put and kept me in remission.

Choice Thank you for addressing this subject. It would be a real shame if we didn’t cover such subjects because they are controversial and/or could make people uncomfortable.

I have recently been planning my funeral, I won’t go into details here, funeral planning deserves it’s own thread? This planning has made me think of my own ‘end’. It is curious that I am planning with great detail the event that will celebrate my life/recognise my death but until now I hadn’t given too much thought to my final weeks/days/hours. I would love to hold onto the romanticised view that it will be peaceful and pain free but I’ve listened to a lot of accounts here to the contrary - of people fighting for proper palliative care, fighting to die in the place of their choosing etc. ever the optimist I hope these are isolated, worse case scenarios but I fear not. So surely I should have the choice as to how/when I die, whether I exercise that right is down to me but having that choice feels rather important to me.

Love Twinkle xoxo

— Five years ago my mum was dying of cancer. I didn’t know it at the time because she refused to accept that she was dying and i was under the impression that she had plenty of time left. A while later my sister said mum was unwell - i live some distance from the rest of my family - and i was shocked to see how ill she looked. During the weekend I spent with her she was in great discomfort and distress and i would have done anything she asked me to help ease the state she was in but she made it very plain that she wanted to live and hadn’t given up. I came back home on the Sunday still believing she’d get better. Three days later my sister rang to say she had 24 hours left. What a shock. I arrived at the house 6 hours later to be told it was too late.
I’ve rambled on i’m sorry but this has brought back very sad memories. The point i want to make is i would have done anything to make my mum feel better whether it was illegal or not, but at no point during her last awful days did she give up or ask for us to help her on her way. If and when my time comes, i don’t think i will hang on to life with such resilience. I think i would welcome a kindly, helping hand.

confused about it! Can i just give a rather more personal experience here.

As a christian i have always felt its Gods right to decide when i go but life experiences can sort of change your view on this.

My mum died nearly 2 years ago.
wont go into detail but she suffered for 6 yrs, she had good times and horrendous times.
when told there was nothing else that could be done for her she was i feel relieved as she couldnt cope with more treatment.

Eventually her lung collapsed the general hosp were determined it was a clot on the lung did everything to prolong her life it was cruel cruel cruel, she said to me ‘wouldnt you think God would take me, I can’t take anymore’ this upset me more than her dying.

thank goodness we got her into a hospice and the care was so different.
they would say they dont practise euthanasia, but i think they help you to die allow you to die.
they gave morphine no drip and she was unconscious and then diamorph, it was peaceful and what she would have wanted. they kept her clean and very comfortable.

i am terrified of this cancer and think at 44 I am too young to die but i trust i am going to heaven, however faith or no faith i am terrified of how i shall cope with suffering and my precious kids and hubby seein me. If they say theres nothing more they can do for me I would welcome someone speeding up my death and makin me oblivious to it.

Felt depressed all day help help

My Mum My Mum died of bowel cancer almost 6 years ago now. The last few months of her life she suffered terribly. She was in a lot of pain. She spent most of that time in and out of hospital. The last four weeks of her life were spent in a hospice and I have nothing but praise for the way they cared not only for Mum but for all of her family visiting. I did a 130 mile round trip every day to see her - I came home because my children were 12 and 10 at the time and needed me to be about. The last few days of her life I had to rely on my ex husband to look after them - he’s a nutcase. I went down to see her as usual on Thursday morning and was told by the hospice staff that it wouldn’t be long now and to stay close to her. Apart from necessary quick dashes to the loo, I didn’t leave her bedside. She died days later late on Monday evening. It seemed interminable. My Dad was in denial and went home to sleep saying that if necessary he could dash back - fortunately though he hadn’t left when she did die. My Mum was unconscious for 5 days but still experienced pain when she was moved - to hear her scream out was truly awful and will be a sound I will never ever forget. Sunday night when it was just me and Mum I can remember willing her to die because I was so very tired, I was worried about my children and I just wanted the whole nightmare to be over - as the thoughts were in my head I felt so very guilty because I knew Mum so desperately wanted to hold onto life. Mum was unconscious for days, there was no way she was going to wake up and to see my Dad so distressed was truly heartbreaking.

I would not want to die in that way. Not only do I not want to be in pain but even more I do not want to put my family through that - it was so truly awful. I would be grateful if I was at that stage someone tweaked my morphine drip up and speeded up the process. It’s not that I don’t value life, I do, but when it gets to the stage when it is merely a waiting game and so awful for the family doing that waiting then I personally can’t see what is wrong with speeding up the process.

My partner lost his ex-wife to cancer. They had been divorced for years and she had remarried. She died in a hospice, my partner’s daughters were 17 and 15 at the time - the eldest one wouldn’t leave her bedside. My partner is very grateful that the end for his ex wife was just a few short hours under excellent care of the hospice. He said that his prime concern was for his daughters and he felt that they would have struggled to have coped if her passing had taken days and days. As it was both his daughters were exhausted by the whole thing.

I know this is a highly controversial subject - these are just my views and in no way are meant to cause offence to anyone.


— Hi everybody — To my mind this is a very sad and quite traumatic thread, but yet a very necessary one for many people. Euthanasia is often something that if we broach the subject with loved ones we are told to not think along those lines, everything is going to be fine. We know that this is not always the case and so many of us, myself included, have witnessed to this effect.

I am so divided with euthanasia. When diagnosed initially, I told my GP - the only medical person I trust at the moment - that the time may come when I need his help not to die in a way that I would be remembered by my family as in pain, or not knowing what I was saying. He just nodded. I was left to interpret that.

Is it going against whatever God we believe in? If that were so, then surely we are by seeking treatment to halt this disease, already going against his wishes… Yes. No. I don’t know.

However, there is still a part of me that is unsure about it all because I DO NOT TRUST the medical profession. How can I trust them to make decisions on life and death for me - so far they have done an abominable job. Due to go for surgery next week I have already left notes around the house for my daughter - how to defluff the tumble dryer, what to do if th drains block on the drive, who I want to read at my funeral service and what, etc etc etc … My house looks like a yellow sticker palace. … I am terrified of Gen Anaesthetics. I could go onto why but won’t add fear to an already quite scary (to some people) thread.

There definitely ARE two sides to this debate - and as usual, Dumbo here, is on both sides - utterly confused and can’t make up my mind!!!

Joy xxx

— Despite what i said in my earlier post i don’t actually agree that euthanasia should be made legal. I was brought up a catholic and still hold a lot of the beliefs. I think legalising euthanasia could be “the thin edge of the wedge”. I think it would lead to some people in the medical profession making wrong decisions. Could we trust that all families are happy families? Who would decide what criteria had to be met?
But i do think that no one should be left in pain. Freedom from pain should be one of the most important aims of treatment and that if pain relief does shorten the life that is left i don’t have a problem with that.
No-one really knows how they’ll feel in these circumstances. I was certainly surprised by my own thoughts and feelings as i watched my mum suffer.

More information I thnk the word ‘euthanasia’ can be difficult beacuse it has some very unpleansant historical associations.

The Bill which is going to come before the House of Lords focuses on physician assisted suicide, similar to the Oregan model in the USA. Physician assisted suicide means that a doctor prescribes life ending medication for patients in repsonse to their request for medical help to die.

The Bill includes strong conscientious objector clauses covering all health professionals and institutions such as hospitals and hospices.

Anyone intersted in the deatils fo the Bill can get a campaign pack from VES/Dignity in Dying.


I do not have a terminal diagnosis… …so therefore my point of view can only be theoretical. I have seen the death of a distant relative - which was very slow and laboured - and also a good friend’s husband - so not close relatives.

This is a controversial subject and a very sensitive one. I believe I may have a controversial point of view, and I hope it does not cause offence, forgive me if that is the case.

Nobody wants a death that is painful, or lingering or actually in any way uncomfortable, surely it is a given that we would all wish for a quick easy peaceful death, but also one which gives us the opportunity to say and do the things we feel we need to.

Nobody during their life wants to experience falling out of love, divorce, debt, eviction or the normal routine miseries that are less traumatic but are nonetheless part of living. Anybody heard of a pain free life? Would we want it? Where I come from dying is part of living - it will be how it is.

(Although as Spike Milligan said ‘I’m not afraid of dying I just don’t want to be there when I do’).

I have a horror that if we go down this path of euthanasia it is a very short step to having to report somewhere at an appointed hour to receive the final injection.

There was a case a couple of years ago of a woman who had experienced depression all her life and she received assisted suicide - she was physically in good health. Moral dilemma, upon moral dilemma - I do believe some things should be left to ‘higher powers’ whoever they may be. Let’s face it us humans cannot even keep a clean planet and that is simple housekeeping.


My Beliefs This has been a very sad post for me, I’ve cried throughout reading all the threads…simply because my dad died 6 years ago and he was an avid suporter of Euthonasia…he didnt want my mum to suffer if he fell ill and couldnt look after himself…just as I wouldnt for the sake of my 11 year old…but now I’m in 2 minds…so what if I get a terminal prognosis…who looks after her then?..I know if that happens I can only do so much, but why not do it while you have time??..there are 2 certainties in this life…you are born and you die…(AND THE TAX MAN…so that makes 3)…I’m not altogether sure I could go through with it now, cos my babys face would be there…its not the dying that worries me…its the people you leave behind…maybe I’m still in denial .I dont know but I am going to live as long as I can and when I cant…I’ve booked my bed in the hospice. no one has the right to take a life…not even if its your own…so watch this space in 5 years…I hope I’ll still be here

Love Morag

Euthanasia I have always been a firm believer in euthanasia, but more importantly believe in everyone’s right to choose how they live and die.

I now find myself with a terminal diagnosis, have made plans for my funeral, written a list of wishes for the family, and have requested that I spend my last hours in our local hospice.

Yes I still believe in euthanasia, I do not want a long drawn out, painful death, BUT at the same time I suspect that when it comes time for me to make the decision I shall probably want “one more day”, providing of course that I am in a fit enough state of mind to make any decisions.

I have watched two very good friends die of BC, both in our local hospice, both had peaceful, pain-free deaths, and dearly hope that this is what is in store for me.

I feel I have come to terms with my prognosis, after all I’ve had just over 2 years to adjust, but I know I’m not ready to leave my family yet, perhaps that comes as you feel less and less well.

If euthanasia was to become legal I’m not sure where the responsibility should lie. Could we trust the NHS to do it, as many have said there are far too many stories on here with horror stories. I don’t think the onus should be on friends and family either, it is a huge burden to lay on anybody. Perhaps the hospice movement would be the best alternative, but not everyone has access to their services, obviously there would have to be an awful lot of answers before any decision could be made.

At the end of the day it is a personal decision and I think we have to fight for the right to make that decision and not risk anyone assisting us having legal actions taken against them, I know that I really couldn’t ask anyone to face that for me.

Ruth xx