Retired Methodist minister Dave Mullan is fighting for his right to die with dignity. But is he committing the ultimate sin?
After 16 years, the Auckland man is sick of his advanced prostate cancer, and says he desperately supports the End of Life Choice Bill.
As do most NZers.
Mullan looks healthy but in reality his cancer is now compressing his spinal nerves.
He can expect to be progressively paralysed and eventually made helpless. Road trips and referendums won’t benefit him.
He says it was a struggle to get through June. “I can now feel the cancer in my spine, hip and left leg. It’s difficult for me to wake up,” he says.
“I’m only just surviving now, I’m in constant pain and feel miserable all the time.”
After an unrelated surgery, he began experiencing “appalling” spasms, he says.
“I felt as if every muscle between my shoulders and knees was tugging on the edge of the incision. I could neither move nor cry out. If that kind of pain, even in short spasms while unconscious is what I might expect when this wretched disease overtakes me, I don’t want it,” he says.
“I am being medicated for daily pain. My experience with the mysterious tetany spasms leads me to believe I may be one of the few hospice patients whose pain is simply not suitable for palliative care.”
This is a key aspect. The providers of palliative care do a wonderful job for most people. But not for everyone. And people like Dave Mullan should have the choice of ending their agonizing pain and suffering.