A mother-of-three has become the first person in Victoria to end her life under the state’s new voluntary assisted dying laws.
Kerry Robertson, 61, died at a nursing home in Bendigo on July 15 having battled breast cancer for almost a decade.
She was the first person to be granted the permit, having visited her specialist the day legislation came into effect on June 19.
Ms Robertson’s daughters Jacqui Hicks and Nicole Robertson were at her bedside and described her death as a “beautiful, positive experience”.
“It was the empowered death that she wanted,” Nicole said.
Ms Robertson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Despite treatment, the cancer metastasised to her bones, lungs and brain.
In March, the disease spread to her liver and meant the side effects of chemotherapy were no longer manageable. She decided to stop all treatment.
Daughter Jacqui said her mother was “ready to go”.
“Her body was failing her and she was in incredible pain. She’d been in pain for a long time,” she said.
“Palliative care did their job as well as they could. But it had been a long battle. She was tired, the pain was intolerable and there was no quality of life left for her.”
The women said their mother’s death had reinforced their belief that anyone who is terminally ill, suffering intolerable pain deserves the choice of a voluntary assisted death.
“It is the most compassionate, dignified and logical option for those suffering in the end stages of life,” Nicole said.
Go Gentle Australia director Andrew Denton said Ms Robertson’s story demonstrated how well the law had been designed.
“The eligibility criteria were met, the safeguards were worked through, and Kerry Robertson and her family were offered the compassionate death Kerry wanted,” Mr Denton said.
“Importantly, too, access to the process was not an issue, even though the family was from regional Victoria. It is a testament to the dedication and compassion of everyone involved.”
Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying laws allow terminally-ill adults in specific circumstances to end their lives after two medical professionals have signed their application, and a cooling-off period has passed.
The government expects up to 150 people a year will eventually use the scheme.
Similar laws are being considered in Western Australia and Queensland.