Woman traumatised by mum’s final months to travel to New Zealand for assisted death
A charity worker is considering travelling across the world to benefit from New Zealand’s assisted dying laws – because she doesn’t want to die the same way her mum did.
Avril Barker, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was left heartbroken as she watched her mum Anne ‘waste away’ before she died of cancer aged 79.
The 51-year-old, who could die before Christmas, has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive tumour.
But she has vowed that she does not want to die in the same traumatic way as her mum, who she hid the full details of her diagnosis from, The Times reports.
Avril is now considering making the 11,000 mile trip to New Zealand, her previous home for 20 years, to benefit from its assisted dying law.
She said her mother’s final months left her “traumatised” saying she “couldn’t bear to see her like that”.
Since Avril received her diagnosis in November last year, she has researched the low survival stats of her rare melanoma of the vagina, and thought, “This is not the way I am going to go.””
She is currently undergoing palliative immunotherapy and radiotherapy to control the tumour, which has spread to her lymph nodes – and has decided that she wants to die with dignity.
She insists she is still ‘a healthy 51-year-old’ apart from the cancer, and is scared of the long process ahead of her as her organs begin to shut down.
She added: “If I get to the stage where the hospital says there’s no more that we can do, then I would very quickly try to book myself a flight and get a friend to come over and travel with me to take me there.”
People in New Zealand who are terminally ill with less than six months to live can have an assisted death in New Zealand, if two doctors agree.
It comes as MPs last week backed a new vote on assisted dying in the House of Commons, triggered by a petition which gained 155,000 signatures.
The bill, which was tabled in the House of Lords, would see assisted dying become legal for terminally ill, mentally competent adults in the last six months of life.
One vocal supporter of assisted dying in the UK is Paul Blomfield, the Labour MP for Sheffield Central.
He broke down in tears during a debate in Parliament as he told colleagues how his father took his own life after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
He said: “He couldn’t talk to me or his partner because it would have made us complicit.
“The current law forced my father into a lonely decision and a lonely death.”
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said: “Avril’s experience goes to the heart of why it has become untenable for MPs to continue to defend the UK’s blanket ban on assisted dying.
“The will from the public and from parliament is there; just a lack of process stands in the way. Scotland, Jersey and now the Isle of Man each have assisted dying bills progressing in their parliaments and votes expected next year.”