When the Supreme Court of Canada struck down this country’s laws against assisted dying, Barb Gibson-Clifford cheered in her kitchen.
"I was overwhelmed a bit," she says. "It felt so powerful to me that the nine judges were in consensus and spoke as an entity."
The weight of the decision means a lot to Barb because she has been fighting uterine cancer for 10 years. She is now Stage 4.
"That means that any therapies done on me are palliative," she says. "The disease will continue to come back. It won't ever go away, so I know that someday, it will end my life."
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The Supreme Court's monumental ruling promises to give Barb control over when and how she dies. Facing the prospect of the last ravages of her disease, she wants the option to end her life peacefully with the help of a physician.
"There is a lot of fear in my mind associated with considering my life coming to an end as I expect that it would come to an end with this sarcoma — and that's with a lot of pain, with a lot of organ shutdown," she says. "So it's terrifying to think that, if I don't have choice, it could be very nasty, both for myself and for my family members."
But despite the Supreme Court's resounding decision, assisted dying may not be available to people like Barb unless our lawmakers and healthcare regulators create rules that reflect the ruling. Bill C-14, the federal assisted dying law, offers choice to many in need, but it violates the rights of many people who would have been eligible under the Supreme Court's decision.
This is why Barb is speaking out — because she knows that assisted dying offers control and peace of mind to people like her, those who are grappling with a terrible diagnosis like incurable cancer and face the prospect of tremendous pain and suffering at end of life.
"I want to be able to choose," Barb says. "I want the choice to be able to say what I would like. Just knowing that 'there’s nothing more that we can do,' I won’t have to hear that, because there will be something that can be done."
Barb spoke with Edmonton-based filmmaker Jason Gondziola to tell her story. To hear her testimony, watch the powerful video located below.