‘It completely traumatised me!’

Canadians living with disabilities and treatable cancer are speaking out about being offered euthanasia instead of care.

Allison Ducluzeau from Vancouver Island was diagnosed with advanced abdominal cancer and told she had just a few months to live.

The Unherd reports:

“[The specialist] warned that she might only live a few months longer: chemotherapy tended to be ineffective for her cancer, buying a bit more time at best, and she was inoperable. Instead, she was told to go home, sort out her papers, and decide if she wanted medical assistance in dying.”

Wanting to live for the sake of her children, Allison decided to take her care into her own hands. She did her research and travelled to the USA for treatment.

“She had discovered that patients could be given debulking surgery to reduce their cancer, followed by targeted use of heated chemotherapy — yet back in Canada, she could not get even an initial telephone chat with a surgeon who performed such operations for two months… By the time she managed to see an oncologist in her home province of British Columbia, she was already on the road to recovery.”

Allison is now in remission.

She is not opposed to euthanasia, but is furious that she was offered it instead of care: 

“We do not have a good standard of care here, especially for cancer — and that is why it is so dangerous to have MAID, especially when it can be used to take a bit of pressure off physicians and the government.” 

Journalist Ian Birrell, who interviewed Allison, is also not opposed to euthanasia but had this to say after hearing her story:

“[Until] talking to Alisson, I had not considered the implications of injecting this irreversible reform into a struggling healthcare system. In British Columbia, faced with growing waiting lists and corrosive healthcare bureaucracy, there have been reports of a number of cancer patients forced to resort to MAID. Samia Saikali, for instance, a 67-year-old grandmother in Victoria, chose to end her life that way after waiting more than 10 weeks to see a specialist.”

It’s not only those with cancer who are being pushed towards euthanasia instead of care. It’s also those with disabilities.

Roger Foley has a disability that means he suffers from chronic pain. He is in hospital rather than at home because it has been very difficult to get at-home care, telling the Western Standard that his carer suggested he apply for euthanasia:

"It's completely traumatized me. Now it's this overlying option, where in my situation when I say I'm suicidial, I'm met with, 'Well, you know, the hospital has a program to help you with that if you wanted to end your life.' That didn't exist before MAiD was legalized. But now it's there.”

Foley also rejected claims that opposition to euthanasia only comes from religious groups:

“That's the ultimate gaslighting statement. Like I'm not religious… Saying that it's just religious persons who oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide are completely wrong. And these people usually say it, they have an ableist mindset, and they look at persons with disabilities and see us as just better off dead and a waste of resources.”

Foley is right. Objection to euthanasia is not only coming from religious groups, but from others who see that it results in a lack of choices for those with chronic and terminal illnesses. 

Unfortunately, it seems that an increasing group of people are opposed to it because they have first-hand experience of the lack of care that comes as a result of its legalisation.