"Dad’s brave, excruciating fight needed not be so hard"

Courier Mail

A Coast lawyer whose dad fought an unwinnable battle with motor neurone disease is advocating strongly for voluntary assisted dying to be legalised.

3 min read

October 25, 2020 - 5:00AM

BELINDA ROBINSON

 

Sunshine Coast lawyer Belinda Robinson is a strong advocate for voluntary assisted dying having watched her father's health deteriorate with terminal illness.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has recently promised that a re-elected Labor government would move to legalise voluntary-assisted dying.

On April 24, 2016, I lost my best friend and my inspiration, my father David Robinson.

He fought a horrific battle for four long years with the monster motor neurone disease.

He was just 59 and 45kg at the time of his passing.

This torturous auto-immune disease steals sufferer's ability to talk, walk, eat, swallow, breathe and eventually their ability to continue living.

The neurons controlling the muscles that allow us to move, speak, breathe and swallow degenerate and die.

 

Sunshine Coast lawyer Belinda Robinson is a strong advocate for voluntary assisted dying having watched her father's health deteriorate with terminal illness.

Currently there is no treatment or cure, there is no known cause of the disease and there is limited awareness of the disease.

In 2012, my father began to notice a developing impediment.

He felt his speech was slurring.

Over the following months, the slurring of his speech and difficulty swallowing increased.

He began experiencing difficulty holding objects and using his hands due to weakness of the hand muscles.

He also experienced weakness of the tongue and throat muscles, as well as cramps and muscle twitching.

He visited a doctor and was referred to a neurologist who diagnosed him with bulbar onset motor neurone disease in early 2013.

As the disease rapidly progressed, I watched my stoic father struggle to the point of exhaustion every single day to attempt to do all of the normal everyday activities that we usually took for granted.

Sunshine Coast lawyer Belinda Robinson is a strong advocate for voluntary assisted dying having watched her father's health deteriorate with terminal illness.

They included ingesting solids and liquids, going to the bathroom, showering, dressing, communicating, walking and even holding up his head to see.

In his final stages, he could not do anything at all.

It was a truly devastating and undignified way for anybody to live and it was extremely painful and terrifying to watch the person I loved the most suffer in such a prolonged and horrifying way.

My father was incredibly brave.

He tried to protect me from the pain he was going through the entire time.

However, his drawn-out illness has had permanent traumatic effects on myself and my family.

In April 2016, I said my final goodbye as we laid him to rest at peace at last.

My father died alone. I do not know whether he was awake or asleep at the time.

I do not know whether he suffered in the final moments of his life, fighting to breathe.

My selfless father fought for my family for four very long years, living what could only be described as a horror nightmare from hell.

My father suffered terribly and it pains me all of the time.

Voluntary assisted dying should be a human right.

Every human should have the right to decide whether they are ready to end their suffering. Every death should be peaceful and dignified.

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