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Afghanistan veteran with brain cancer urges Canadians to support laws against assisted suicide

by | Nov 15, 2011

By Alex Schadenberg

Editor’s note. The following is excerpted from the blog of Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Alex Schadenberg

November 14 – At the Vancouver Law Courts this morning, a trial begins that may result in the legalization of assisted suicide. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of B.C., an intervener in the case, is staging a demonstration to help inform Canadians about what such laws will mean for individuals.

Onsite, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of B.C., is offering people who can explain why legalized assisted suicide would be bad for Canadians.

Afghanistan and Bosnia veteran John Coppard, 45, is one of those people. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer two years ago, a Glioblastoma Multiforme, the Victoria resident became depressed when he realized his career was over, he’d probably never be a father or a grandfather, and his chance of surviving even five years was just 20 per cent.

If assisted suicide had been legal at the time, he believes he may have considered killing himself. But since then his condition has stabilized on a newly-approved medication. He even bought a sailboat.

“For those of us living with life threatening conditions, the system as it is offers us incredible hope,” Coppard said. “New therapies are discovered all the time. Everyone knows someone who was offered a terrible prognosis that turned out to be wrong. Doctors work hard to offer us the best chance at a long life and sometimes, recovery. I know mine are”

Assisted suicide, he said, undermines Canadians’ relationship with care providers.

“When you’re diagnosed with something like brain cancer or ALS, your treatments are very complex. You put a lot of trust in your doctors, your health care system and those closest to you to steer you through your illness. In my case I trust them completely. If assisted suicide is on the table, however, who will I be able to trust?”

Categories: Assisted Suicide