Terminal Mother Asks NZers To Vote "No"
“You’re not just voting on a law; you’re voting on whether you should kill someone like me. What you say in this referendum influences how I think about myself” states a terminally ill woman.
Since 2011, Vicki Walsh has lived with the diagnosis of rain cancer. She was initially given 12 months to live. Nine years later, she is still terminally ill and will be voting “No” in the End of Life Choice Act referendum.
“You receive this diagnosis, but 6 months left to live is not a long period of time” says Walsh. “How are you supposed to make life changing decisions based on a prognosis like that?”
Walsh is disappointed by how assisted dying is often presented as a ‘heroic’ choice. She says that reading the stories of others overseas who have chosen to ‘go out on their own terms’ made her feel selfish for continuing with her own personal battle. When she considered the impact of her illness on her family, and their finances, she began to question, “Am I making my family suffer? Am I a burden?”.
Her concern is that the vulnerability caused by physical pain and the feelings guilt for being a burden will lead people to conclude that choosing to end your life is the best option. She admits to having these feelings herself, despite seeing herself as a strong person. “It made me vulnerable, that I was gutless for not wanting to end my life, for wanting to fight on”.
At one low point, these feelings led Vicki to make an unsuccessful attempt to end her own life. However she is now very happy to be alive, despite continuing to live with pain and a terminal diagnosis.
“Since 2011 I’ve had 5 more grandchildren, amazing experiences… but I’ve also learnt how much people can care for you if you allow them to. That love isn’t conditional.”
She believes if the End of Life Choice Act had been available, she believes she would have chosen it. The thought of that fills her with immense sadness due to how much enjoyment and quality of life she has experienced since that time, in a way she never thought possible.
Earlier this year, with declining health and new surgeries, Vicki didn’t think she’d even make it to vote in this year’s election. Surprisingly even to her, she’s come this far in spite of the year that’s been and placed her vote at her local polling booth in Palmerston North on the first day voting opened on the third of the month – not wanting to miss out.
“I don’t know if I’ll even live to see the outcome of the referendum vote but I’ll fight against it to my dying breath. I believe it isn’t safe. People like me don’t need to be offered death, we need to be treated with kindness and compassion.”