On his own terms

Personal Stories | December 16, 2022 | Gayle Salahub

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A photo of Gayle's mother and father in law with mountains in the background

In the summer of 2018, when my father-in-law was 79, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He was a very proud man his entire life and not one to have people look after him nor tell him what to do. After hearing the diagnosis and after a few bouts of radiation we knew the clock was ticking. The cancer spread quickly to his brain, spine and I am sure other areas we were not aware of. We did not think he would live until Christmas, then Easter, then we celebrated his 80th birthday. He was in pain but determined to do this on his terms. He had palliative care support come to the home. They provided injections and a few other things to make his days a bit more bearable. It was then that medical assistance in dying (MAID) became an option. 

The care and comfort he received from the MAID team was incredible. He decided on the date. The day before, his son Rick, my husband, took him for a drive and he requested a Slurpee. Rick also made a playlist of his favourite music. The next day my husband and I drove to pick Dad and Mom up and we went for a wonderful long drive, listening to that music; I could see him silently singing in the side mirror (which I captured on video). We then went to the center where we were greeted so warmly by the staff. 

Although we all knew why we were there and what the ultimate outcome was going to be, it was so very peaceful. We were sad of course and cried but we were able to sit around his bed and share some funny stories. I slipped a picture of him and Mom in his shirt pocket.  

My father-in-law passed so peacefully and on his terms which is how he lived his entire life. 

We know not everyone believes in taking death into their own hands but witnessing this process ourselves we are firm believers in this life choice. 

Thank you for letting me share this with you. 

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