Lecretia Seales – in her own words

  • October 05, 2015

This excerpt is from the case, Seales v Attorney General, quoting an affidavit written by Lecretia Seales.

For the moment I will continue living my life every day as best I can. Despite my current disabilities and problems I do treasure every day and have no present desire to end my life. I do not lack courage. If my death is manageable I should be the one to manage it. But I cannot rule out that it will be unbearable even with palliative care. [Ms Seales’ principal oncologist] acknowledges that, for many of my symptoms, palliative care will have minimal effect. This would include the loss of physical or mental capacity, being unable to swallow and the loss of the ability to communicate. While I understand that pain can usually be managed, there can be no guarantees that pain relief will address all pain. If pain relief is required in high doses, I am concerned that it could impact on my awareness of myself and my loved ones.

As my death has become more inevitable, I constantly worry that it could be slow, unpleasant, painful and undignified. I worry that I will be forced to experience a death that is in no way consistent with the person that I am and the way that I have lived my life. I know that it might not turn out this way, but even the chance that it will is weighing on me very heavily.

Because of this I have started thinking about what I could do to end my own life before I become physically unable. This is not a choice I want to make. I know that if I do take this action I would probably have to do that much earlier than I would if I could ask a doctor to assist me with my death. But my other choice is to face a possibly unbearable death.

My paralysis means that I am already limited in the methods I could use to end my life. However, there are still means available to me and I feel I have no choice but to consider them. I know that some of these methods might not work (eg poison or carbon monoxide) and could cause my family further suffering. I know that if I take my own life, I will need to do so alone and in secret to avoid the possibility of my loved ones being implicated. I hate the thought of going through that alone, with my loved ones having to find me, and not being able to say goodbye to them properly. If I wait too long to make this decision, I could become physically unable to take my own life other than by refusing food and water. I do not want to die that way but dying that way may still be more bearable than having to suffer through to the bitter end without choice.

It seems incomprehensible to me that I can exercise a choice to end my life when I am able, and still have quality of life, but can’t get any help to do so at a later point when my life no longer has any quality for me. I want to live as long as I can but I want to have a voice in my death and be able to say “enough”.

I am not depressed. I have accepted my terminal illness and manage it in hugely good spirits considering that it’s robbing me of a full life. I can deal with that, and deal with the fact that I am going to die, but I can’t deal with the thought that I may have to suffer in a way that is unbearable and mortifying for me.

I have lived my life as a fiercely independent and active person. I have always been very intellectually engaged with the world and my work. For me a slow and undignified death that does not reflect the life that I have led would be a terrible way for my good life to have to end.

I want to be able to die with a sense of who I am and with a dignity and independence that represents the way I have always lived my life. I desperately want to be respected in my wish not to have to suffer unnecessarily at the end. I really want to be able to say goodbye well.