The first person in Victoria to be granted a permit to end her life under the state’s new voluntary assisted dying laws, the 61-year-old was in a nursing home in Bendigo when she died on July 15.
“The last words she said to us were ‘I love you’,” her daughter, Nicole Robertson, 33, said.
“She was so peaceful and surrounded by love. It was the way she wanted to leave this world.”
Sounds dignified and peaceful.
Over the next five years, the cancer slowly invaded her body. It riddled her lungs and then her brain. She lost her vision and her ability to walk unaided.
Despite the best efforts of her palliative care team, her pain never eased and she was left bedridden. When the cancer spread to her liver in March this year, she ceased all treatment.
Kerry had piercing blue eyes that lit up when she laughed. But when her vision deteriorated, her eyes faded to a pale blue.
“She tended to just stare off into nothingness,” Nicole said. “Her pupils were kind of like pinpricks and she wouldn’t make any facial expressions because she couldn’t see what your face was doing. It was so heartbreaking and it was just so cruel.”
Cancer can be so hard.
Her playlist filled with songs by Nick Cave and her first love, David Bowie, hummed in the background as she ate a capricciosa pizza; her favourite meal.
Kerry requested to speak to each of her daughters separately. She told them how much they meant to her.
“Then she told us that she was ready,” Jacqui said.
“She left this world with courage and grace, knowing how much she is loved,” Nicole said. “For us, that was the greatest part, knowing that we did everything we could to make her happy in life and comfortable in death.”
Nicole and Jacqui said their mother’s death had reinforced their belief that terminally ill people who are suffering intolerably deserve the choice to end their own life.
Why would we deny this choice to people?