Brit woman, 45, with terminal cancer fast-tracks plan to die at Dignitas due to lockdown

A WOMAN with terminal breast cancer has said she has fast-tracked plans to end her own life to avoid coronavirus restrictions preventing her.

The 45-year-old has been granted a waiver to travel by the Swiss government but only to her hotel and final appointment at the Dignitas clinic near Zurich.

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“I fear that if I leave it any later, my plans could be jeopardised,” she told the Sunday Times.

“Many of the larger airlines have postponed their flights to Switzerland and others are getting cancelled.”

The woman said she is a former senior mental health professional in the NHS who was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in last September.

She faces the prospect of spinal fractures and paralysis and in August learnt that her cancer had reached her liver meaning her “time is limited” and leaving her in “considerable pain”.

The care from her local hospice has “been excellent” but the medication for her pain is no longer working despite hertaking the “maximum dose”.

But with the second wave of the coronavirus well on its way she fears being stuck in quarantine.

“The pandemic has affected my end of life plans in other ways too,” she explained.

“I had planned to travel to Florence with my husband before my pain became too severe.

What is Dignitas?

Dignitas is a non-profit society which provides assisted or accompanied suicide to its members, provided their wishes are signed off by independent doctors.

The Swiss society helps members with severe physical or mental illnesses, as well as the terminally ill, to end their own lives.

Founded in 1998, over 2,100 people have died with Dignitas' help, in assisted suicides at home or at the society's house near Zürich.

Members who want an assisted death have to prove that they are of sound judgement, and have to be able to bring about their deaths themselves.

They must submit a formal request, including a letter explaining why they want to die, and have their wishes approved by doctors who aren't part of the organisation.

In Switzerland, active euthanasia is also illegal, although it is not a crime to prescribe lethal drugs, provided the recipient takes an active role in taking them.

“I wanted to walk in the Highlands with my family one last time. I longed to meet my friends for afternoon tea, as we have done for years.”

The woman says that she has, however, been met with a “wall of silence” from doctors when she has tried to talk openly “about the perfectly rational desire to avoid a traumatic death”.

She is now in a situation where she has to travel to Switzerland alone and won’t be with her loved ones because the law in the UK doesn’t permit assisted dying.

“This was my worst nightmare: having to spend all that time alone in a foreign country, away from everyone I love,” she said.

“Fortunately I have managed to gain assurance from the Swiss authorities that I will be granted safe passage and given an exemption from quarantine.

“I feel I must go now, before I am truly ready. Britain’s ban on assisted dying is forcing me into a premature, lonely death.”

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
  • Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123
  • Movember, www.uk.movember.com
  • Anxiety UK www.anxietyuk.org.uk, 03444 775 774 Monday-Friday 9.30am-10pm, Saturday/Sunday 10am-8pm

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