The daughters of the first person to make use of the assisted dying laws in Victoria have described their mother’s death as “incredibly peaceful” .
On July 15 Kerry Robertson made history by becoming the first Australian to find peace by legally taking her own life in a nursing home in Bendigo, 7 News reports.
The 61-year-old mother and grandmother had suffered from breast cancer, which had metastasised into her bones, developing tumours in her brain, lungs and liver.
Kerry was the first person in the country to receive a permit under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act in Victoria and the first to complete the process.
Daughters Nicole Robertson and Jacqui Hicks were by her side when she took a drink to end her life and witnessed as she took her final breath.
“We were there with her; her favourite music was playing in the background and she was surrounded by love,” Jacqui said according to organisation Go Gentle Australia.
“She left this world with courage and grace, knowing how much she is loved.”
Nicole added: “That was the greatest part, knowing that we did everything we could to make her happy in life and comfortable in death.”
Kerry had an appointment with her doctor the very day the legalisation came into effect in Victoria and took the medication to end her life the same day it was delivered by the state pharmacist.
There were no injections involved and the mother simply drank a mixture to end her life and stop the suffering she had been going through since her cancer diagnosis in 2010.
“Her final words to us were I love you and then she drank the mixture and her breath slowly faded out,” Jacqui told 7 News in an exclusive interview. “Incredibly peaceful, within about 15 minutes she’d passed.”
Nicole added to the news outlet: “It really is just watching them fade away and knowing that they’re at peace.”
The controversial law, which was passed in November 2017, came into effect in Victoria in July with State Premier Daniel Andrews estimating at the time around one dozen people would access assisted dying within the first year.
Victoria is currently the only Aussie state or territory to have a voluntary assisted dying law in place, which gives anyone suffering from a terminal illness, who has less than six months to live, the right to end their life legally.
There are strict stipulations though and anyone who wishes to apply must be a Victorian resident, be aged 18 and over and have been assessed by two doctors to have a terminal illness with intolerable pain that will likely cause death within six months . However, in the case of neurodegenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease, the timeframe is extended to 12 months.
Applications must also be signed by two witnesses and, in a bid to avoid elderly patients being pressured, anyone named as a beneficiary of the person is not permitted to act as a witness.