Wednesday, 22 August 2012

aileen and jethro, cancer, and the right to die

This is a picture of Aileen Crimmings O'Brien Graef and her dog Jethro, taken yesterday, just before Aileen died of breast cancer (from Boing Boing). She is the sister of Miles O'Brien, who bought Jethro to the hospice to say a last goodbye, and who took this photograph.  Their mother also died of the disease and Miles' girlfriend, Xeni Jardin, has also been diagnosed. I'm sure this photograph will be reproduced a lot, as it is certainly moving, and I wish Aileen's daughters (Katie and Aileen) nothing but the best.  I don't know the circumstances around Aileen's illness and death, and the following views are just my own, nothing to do with the way she died (or chose to die).
My own mother died in a hospice through cancer, and it was an awful way to watch someone deteriorate and slip away.  If we could have given her something to speed up the end, and limit the suffering (as she would have wanted), we would have done, but were unable to do so (although l did consider putting a pillow over her face at one stage). It went on and on, until she was finally just (and l mean just) breathing.  Dignity in death was no-where to be seen (although the hospice itself was excellent).
On a related note, Tony Nicklinson, the man with locked in syndrome who last week lost his right to have doctors legally end his life, died today, peacefully at home.  He was going to continue his fight, and l agree that people should have the choice.  It's absurd that people have to suffer in a manner that an animal would not (as it would be put down).
Tony Scott was diagnosed with a brain tumor and jumped off the Vincent Thomas Bridge three days ago in Los Angeles.  Perhaps if he had been able to live out the rest of his life until it got too much, and was then given some kind of lethal painkiller, he might have decided to live longer (although there could be other reasons for jumping).  Lethal medicaton (or possibly Heroin) is certainly the way l would want to go if the aches and pains got too much, and if not, it will be a tall building  for me (probably dressed as Spider-man).  Don't think this is flippant talk and not taking the matter seriously.  I'm deadly serious and have spoken about this for many years.
If you want to leave things in God's hands - fine.  Myself, l want to have the choice, and if l'm not going to be able to make that choice when l am really ill, then l will do so beforehand.  I'm prepared to take my chances with the 'afterlife' and the consequences of my actions.

toodle pip

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