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Sylvia's story: My husband's assisted death was peaceful and completely on his own terms

Dr. Doug Henshaw lived a life full of colour and adventure. He was a brilliant surgeon and a pioneer in life — and in death. His decision to access medical assistance in dying in September 2016 made him one of the first Nova Scotians to choose this newly available option. In this special blog post, Doug's wife, Sylvia, writes about his incredible life and choice.

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Colette’s story: My mother fought for her right to assisted dying. This is her legacy.

Not long after Canada passed its assisted dying law in June 2016, British Columbia's Mary John submitted her request and was approved. But her joy over being able to die on her own terms quickly turned to additional pain and frustration when hospice staff repeatedly obstructed her access, needlessly prolonging her life and her suffering.

After weeks of this active interference, Mary finally got her wish: She became one of the first British Columbians to access assisted dying — if not, the first. Throughout her weeks-long ordeal, she and her family never once stopped advocating for her right to a peaceful death. 

In this powerful blog post, Mary’s daughter, Colette, and her boyfriend, Dean, share how Mary's fight for choice and compassion was able to pave the way for patients and families in her community and province.

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I supported my husband on his assisted dying journey. This is what I learned.

In early November, Jana Buhlmann wrote a powerful entry for the DWDC blog about her husband, Chris, who had a medically assisted death in September 2017. In her follow-up post, Jana reflects on the resistance Chris faced from people in his life who opposed his end-of-life choice — and the lessons she learned about herself along the journey.

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How DWDC brought supporters' stories to the federal studies on assisted dying

It came as a major disappointment when the Council of Canadian Academies — the research institute tasked by the federal government to study the future of assisted dying — said it wouldn't be consulting with ordinary Canadians as part of its work. As the leading organization working to defend Canadians' end-of-life rights, we at Dying With Dignity Canada felt that you deserved a seat at the table when it comes to your rights and your choice.

But, as Rachel Phan, DWDC's digital communications coordinator, explains, we hashed out a plan to include your voices as part of our official submission to the CCA, to make sure the researchers involved knew what was truly at stake. When we put out a call for letters from our supporters, she writes, the response was overwhelming. And the stories and perspectives contained in the 746 letters we received reminded us of the human cost of assisted dying rules that fail to respect Canadians' rights at end of life.

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Kate's story: My dad chose a medically assisted death. This is my celebration of his life and choice.

In late June, Mark Alexander died peacefully at his home, surrounded by his close family and friends. The British Columbia man was an avid outdoorsman, globe-trotter, and beer-league hockey player who loved all kinds of physical activity, but loved his family above all else. Despite his zest for life, Mark was always realistic about his prostate cancer diagnosis. After every treatment failed, he made the decision to access medical assistance in dying, and he did so with unwavering conviction. At his Celebration of Life reception, his daughter, Kate, presented a speech about his end-of-life choice. She has graciously allowed us to share her beautiful words on our blog.

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Dr. David Amies: Manitoba's new assisted dying law fails to put patients first

In this blog post, Dr. David Amies comments on the recent passage of Manitoba's Bill 34, which prioritizes the view of objecting clinicians over the rights of patients. This, Dr. Amies writes, is akin to doing harm to the province's most vulnerable people.

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Maggie’s story: Will I be able to make the end-of-life choice I want?

Maggie Bristow can no longer bear to breathe because every breath sets her body afire with pain. The Ottawa woman has fibromyalgia and spinal stenosis, along with a host of other medical conditions, and wants nothing more than to be able to access medical assistance in dying. Physically unable to write her own story, Maggie spoke with Dying With Dignity Canada volunteer Liana Brittain, who helped Maggie put her excruciating pain into words.

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Kathy’s story: My second wife’s assisted death brought peace and joy. But my first wife’s death still haunts me.

Kathy watched Kim, her wife of 25 years, die a "soul-destroying" and traumatic death in 2014 — just two years before Canada passed its assisted dying law.

A few years later, Kathy watched as her second wife, Lynne, was diagnosed with a terminal disease, but this time, assisted dying was newly legal and available in Canada. The contrast between Kim's death and Lynne's was stark, Kathy writes.

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'Disappointing' assisted dying bill passes in Manitoba

The passage of the Manitoba government’s Bill 34 is a major blow to patient rights in the province, Dying With Dignity Canada says.

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Read: DWDC's presentation on Manitoba's Bill 34

What responsibilities do physicians who conscientiously object to assisted dying have to patients who request it?

That was the topic of a pointed discussion in a committee of legislators on Monday night. Advocates and experts testified to MLAs about Bill 34, the government’s proposed legislation on medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Dying With Dignity Canada has major concerns about the bill, which threatens to reinforce unfair barriers to MAID access in the province of Manitoba. DWDC Communications Officer Cory Ruf presented via teleconference to MLAs on the Manitoba legislature’s Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs.

Despite the concerns DWDC raised, the committee did not make any amendments to this piece of legislation. It is expected to go to a final vote in the Manitoba legislature by the end of the week, according to a report in the Winnipeg Free Press. (The CBC also covered the meeting on Bill 34.)

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