Daughter begs for dignity for her dying mother

The daughter of a terminally ill woman made a heartfelt plea at an assisted dying forum in Gerringong on Saturday. 

Kiama Downs’ Tanja Brindley has stopped work to care for her mother, who has been given two weeks to live after cancer and blood condition diagnoses.

There has been no dignity in death for her mum.

“Her dignity is out the door, from head-down she can not do anything for herself,” she said.

“We’re changing her nappies, it’s disgusting.

“My mother begs the doctors to die, she has tears, but they can’t do anything.

“I’ve even Googled to see what I can do, but I know I might end up in jail so I can’t do it.

“It’s the cruellest thing to go through.”

In a local palliative care unit for the past four and a half months, Tanja has been reliving horrors she endured 10 years ago, when she watched her sister die in similar conditions.

As the NSW government votes on the voluntary assisted dying bill, Tanja shared her story and views with Kiama MP Gareth Ward, in one of four local forums this week.

“Why, why, why is this (voluntary assisted dying) not just a normal, everyday thing for the human to choose to do,” she said.

“I cannot get my head around it.”

Tanja believes doctors have a vested interest in keeping patients alive, and the choice to live should rest with the patient.

“If the doctors didn’t offer mum blood transfusions, or medication, she would be at peace now,” she said.

“I wouldn’t have to sit there and watch her suffer, which is horrendous.”

Earlier at the forum, a man told the forum that as a Christian, he believes God should be the ultimate judge on when a person dies.

“I appreciate the concern of this gentleman, but it’s up to the individual,” Tanja said.

“You can still be a Christian and still want to die with dignity.

“That’s my main point, dignity, dignity, dignity, respect and dignity.”

Tanja would like to see the cost of keeping terminally ill people alive diverted into other health care measures.

“It’s costing the government $1500 a day to keep my mum in hospital,” she said.

Earlier, Mr Ward explained aspects of the bill.

Mr Ward and all state MPs have been given a conscience vote.

He is yet to make a decision, and said he will make a call based on feedback at forums, and once the bill has passed through the upper house, as it is subject to change.

At this stage, the bill stipulates a person looking to end their life must be:

- 25 years or older

- Terminally ill

- Likely to pass away in the next 12 months

- Gain clearance from a GP, a second medical professional (specialist), and clearance from a clinical psychiatrist or psychologist to verify they’re of sound mind

The person involved must instigate the process.

Family members can seek an injunction to prevent approval of the application.