As a nurse of 23 years and paramedic of 19 years, Jenny Moncur said she encounters about half a dozen cases each year where people with a terminal illness take their own lives. “Often it is lonely, painful, done violently and sometimes not very successfully,….It is just horrible. At the end of your life you need to be surrounded by love and loved ones.” Jenny said.
Jenny and Royce were married for 36 years and had two children. Royce was fit and healthy one day, then he wasn’t. In mid-2013, he cycled from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland. Two months later, at the ge of 60, he was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer, along with multiple secondary cancers. Royce was in pain and a CAT scan in January 2014 revealed a monumental tumour that had spread all through his abdomen and up into his chest.
Jenny felt that she should have been better placed than most to provide the best care for her dying husband, Royce Moncur. “I had good help from palliative care, I had a good range of medications to help him with his pain, I wasn’t afraid of using the medication. I was happy to give him injections,” Jenny said. So she promised him he would not suffer.
But, a couple of days before Royce died, he began coughing up a foul-smelling goo, like a “rotten liquid meat”. “He was just so stressed and he said to me ‘Can you end it? Can you make it stop?'” Jenny said she was forced to consider the heavy penalty for helping someone take their life and also the difficulty in finding the appropriate lethal dosage for a cancer patient with a high tolerance to painkillers. “But no, I didn’t act on that thought. I did what I could do to manage his pain and his horrible coughing, but I didn’t take it a step further. “At times I wish I did.”
Click for article in The Age 29 September 2017 “Assisted dying: He was Jenny’s most important patient. But she couldn’t help him”