ASSISTED DEATH?... ASSISTED LIFE IS BETTER!
Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.
I always thought I would make it until the look on the doctors’ faces changed to one of concerned urgency. Only then did I know I had a fight on my hands, but I had never lost a fight, and I wasn’t about to lose this one. All I wanted to do was get out of there but they told me the tennis ball-size hole in my lung was cancerous and at best I had maybe six months to live, and even with chemotherapy I was only a 10 per cent chance of making it. That was when the game changed for me.
My little boy wasn’t able to visit me anymore because he got too upset when he had to leave. I was determined to get home. Three times the emergency siren went off and doctors and nurses were rushing everywhere.
Through a morphine haze I could see between all the legs, my older son in the corridor on his haunches. His furrowed brow relaxed a little when I gave him a thumb’s up.
After two operations to remove the lung I had talked my way out of there and I was getting driven home. But it wasn’t long before I was in an ambulance on the way back.
At half my normal weight and half asleep I kept repeating to myself, “I am strong, I am in control, I am strong, I am in control”, over and over, again and again.
I was improving and tried to finish a crossword to test my mental level but I couldn’t handle it. I was craving for wine trifle and a neighbour brought me a beauty that I quickly devoured.
Finally I was ready to go home again and the oncologists were busy arranging the dates for chemo.
They looked shocked when I told them I was not having chemo. “Look”, I explained, “all I know is that cancer struck my wife of 40 years and six of my friends and they all died within weeks of beginning chemo.”
I was getting into the car outside the hospital and the doctors were still trying to convince me of the treatment, but I was having none of it.
A month later my two favourite people, Singo and his son Jack, flew up to buy me lunch. I was eating everything that was coloured red at the time and Singo had arranged for this flash restaurant to provide a lunch of everything edible that was even slightly ruddy.
Reminiscing over the last half century for five hours with tears in our eyes and on our eighth bottle of red I got up to go for a smoke and fell flat on my face, tearing a four inch gash in my eyebrow, but I didn’t feel a thing, it was great to just be alive and with friends.
Another month and I was hanging for a game of golf, but I was exhausted after five holes and content to sit in the buggy wondering why my swing had changed. After being cut in half twice I figured I must have lost all muscle memory as nerve endings had not rejoined where they originally belonged.
Maybe, but I now have a new swing and a new handicap that has gone from 5 to bloody 17, but I can easily manage 18 holes.
I apologise, there is nothing worse than having to endure other people’s medical stories, but it’s really about Victoria’s assisted death legislation. I don’t pray to God for wellness, I am an atheist and can never change that. But I do believe in the mind’s strength and how sheer will can beneficially affect serious conditions.
Okay, so I have incredible friends and a devoted family. I was helped by friends like Mick Dittman who bought me $4,000 worth of concentrated vitamin C and wouldn’t take a cent for it, and some wonderful ladies in Adelaide who sent me equally expensive concentrated hemp oil without charge.
I can’t say if anything worked because I don’t know what the result would have been if I had taken nothing. I can only say people caring about me worked. My kids’ cuddles and my wife’s cups of tea worked. My friends like Larry Olsen who brings me firewood and drops by with a bottle of red to talk shit with me for an hour worked… all of those things worked.
What also worked was my determination to stay in charge and stay strong. The thought of my kids without a kiss goodnight or crying at a funeral was too much. Two years has taken its toll emotionally, psychologically and financially, but I’m determined not to give in during the next five years of tests and beyond.
I believe in the sanctity of both old and unborn lives. People who play God believe otherwise. I understand the palliative care argument and the right of someone to decide to check out, but can anyone who decides to end it be of sound mind? And should anyone else make that decision for them? I don't think so.
Only I will decide when I’m ready to check out,
…not others nominated by Daniel Andrew’s legislation.