'If you don't want an assisted death, don't have one': Berry mum's plea

BLOODY HARD: Sandy McPake with a picture of her son, Beau Jaypeltier, who died of brain cancer aged just 29. Sandy supports the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying bill. Picture: Robert Peet.
BLOODY HARD: Sandy McPake with a picture of her son, Beau Jaypeltier, who died of brain cancer aged just 29. Sandy supports the NSW Voluntary Assisted Dying bill. Picture: Robert Peet.

Sandy McPake nursed her son Beau through the last months of his life - she hopes the NSW Parliament will vote to save others the same suffering.

Beau Jaypeltier died four years ago, in his mum's Berry home.

He had just turned 29, and had lived in Canada before going to New Zealand on a fruit picking adventure.

A butcher by trade, Beau was a fit, fun-loving young man who had a knack for bringing people together, Sandy said.

He began to get severe headaches, and came home to have them investigated in March 2017.

"One day a life can be brilliant, and the very same day it can change," Sandy said.

"He got off the plane and went straight to hospital for a CT scan, and they found the mass.

"He did a round of chemo, and it didn't even touch it. They knew there was nothing more they could do.

"We brought him home and lived with dying until August."

They shared some special moments while Beau was dying, including his brother's wedding.

But harder than losing her young son, Sandy said, was watching him suffer.

"Watching your own child in pain, not able to do anything to help, it's soul-destroying," she said.

"You're helpless. He hated what the medication did to him, it stopped him sleeping but increased his appetite. He went from a muscly young man to an overweight person very quickly, he just hated it.

"The pain of the headaches, this tumour growing inside his brain would physically distort his face. Anything palliative care gave us just didn't touch it.

"He would vomit out of nowhere. He lost his eyesight, his hearing, his ability to walk."

IN OTHER NEWS:

NSW is now the only state in Australia without voluntary assisted dying laws.

It was last dealt with in NSW in 2017, when legislation was introduced by Nationals MP Trevor Khan in the Legislative Council (the upper house). Both major parties allowed a conscience vote and it failed by one vote.

This time it's a bill brought by Independent Alex Greenwich, with 28 co-sponsors from all sides of politics, and it has started its journey in the Legislative Assembly (the lower house).

Sandy wants legislators to recognise what a deeply personal choice euthanasia is.

"If you don't want assisted dying, don't have an assisted death," she said.

"It should be a personal choice, not a government choice.

"To have to watch someone you love suffer is so bloody hard. It's hard and it's sad."

Dying with Dignity NSW recently released a data report from the National Coronial Information System which reveals one in five suicides of people over 40 in NSW in 2019 were by people with a terminal or debilitating medical condition or who had experienced a significant decline in physical health.

Sandy said she could understand their decision - it's one thing to battle an illness when there's hope, another to suffer when death is certain.

"We want the people we love to be able to die safely, not to take steps and not know what the outcome will be," she said. "They're not getting better, they know they're not going to get better. In fact, they know things are going to get worse.

"Why not give them the peace of mind that they won't have to suffer?"

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet opposes voluntary assisted dying, but will allow a conscience vote on the bill.

This story 'If you don't want an assisted death, don't have one': mum's plea first appeared on South Coast Register.