Honouring Audrey Parker
Personal Stories | May 26, 2023 | Sue Fenwick
In April 2023, Kim King – friend of Audrey Parker – participated in a Dying With Dignity Canada email series in support of advance requests. Audrey Parker made national news in 2018 when she advocated for an important change in MAID legislation – the waiver of final consent. Audrey had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and had been approved for an assisted death, but she feared that she would lose capacity before her chosen provision date and lose the opportunity to die on her own terms. Because of this flaw in the legislation, Audrey chose to die earlier than what she wanted but her courage to speak out impacted change, and in March 2021, the waiver of final consent was made legal in Canada’s MAID legislation; it is often referred to Audrey’s Amendment.
When Sue Fenwick received Kim’s email, it struck a chord and motivated her to respond to her. Sue agreed to share her letter with us and how Audrey Parker had educated her father and gave rise to his choice at his end of life.
Your appeal speaks to me in a very special way. I’d like to tell you about my father. He was told that his bowel cancer had metastasized on November 2, 2018. I was with him at the doctor’s appointment, and we were both shocked by the news. Several hours later, on our drive back to his home, he said to me, “I want to do what that woman in Nova Scotia did;” and by that, he meant MAID. Your friend, Audrey, had been on the news quite a lot and he was paying attention to her situation and brave decision. The following July 23, 2019, my dad chose MAID to end his own life. He was tremendously grateful for it and wanted people to know how he chose to end his life and how important MAID was for him.
There’s more here, which also circles back to Audrey. My father had chronic atrial fibrillation and, as a result, had been on blood thinners for a number of years. Due to the requirement of giving final consent, even after he’d been approved for MAID, he remained on blood thinners until the end, fearing he could have a stroke. He knew that a stroke could potentially affect his ability to provide that last required final consent. His nurse practitioner recommended he go off blood thinners because of the bleeding, but he was adamant that he continue given the stroke risk. I am certain that the resulting bleeding he endured lowered the quality of his last months because of his dropping iron and hemoglobin levels. He had little energy and felt unwell. Had Audrey’s Amendment been in place at that time, I’m convinced his life would have been immeasurably more comfortable for him. And I am grateful to know that Audrey’s life and death meant that others don’t have to make decisions that potentially shorten or reduce the quality of their lives.
I am a strong and vocal advocate of MAID and Dying With Dignity Canada. I’ve answered many surveys, written politicians, but have not previously made a donation to DWDC. Your letter reached into my heart. I’m sending you my deepest condolences on the loss of your friend and also my gratitude to her for helping to point my dad toward his own beautiful and calm death. I’m making a donation in honour of Audrey Parker.
With warmest regards,