Video: Approved for assisted dying, Noreen Campbell opens up about her choice

Noreen Campbell was prepared and ready. Just one day after medical assistance in dying (MAID) was decriminalized in Canada on June 6, she submitted her application.

Campbell, a self-proclaimed “passionate planner,” knows her end-stage respiratory disease will likely cause her to suffocate to death. To avoid this fate, Campbell applied for MAID and was approved in August.

Now, she’s speaking out about the process, the peace she feels knowing she will have a dignified death, and the disappointment she feels that so many other desperately ill Canadians have been barred from the same peace of mind because of Canada’s problematic assisted dying law.

In this exclusive video for Dying With Dignity Canada, Campbell talks about her 50-year nursing career, where she frequently cared for patients at the end of their lives.

“Without a doubt, we have made progress in palliative care and the relief of suffering,” she says in the video. “But it is not possible to solve all of the problems we encounter. That is one of the reasons why I see MAID as an option on a continuum of care for people at the end of their life.”

In the video, Campbell also discusses her surprise diagnosis which, she says, taught her an eye-opening lesson about who a “vulnerable” person is.

“It’s all of us,” she says. “It’s a person that you just haven’t thought of yet: it could be you, it could be your family. Age doesn’t matter. How good you’ve been doesn’t matter. How well you eat your broccoli doesn’t matter.

“What does matter is that we are in the position that Canada has moved forward to offer MAID.”

But the inclusion of the controversial “reasonably foreseeable” clause in Canada’s assisted dying law, Bill C-14, has left Campbell feeling “extremely disappointed” even though her diagnosis means she can “[jump] the hoop of foreseeable death.” Campbell says she would have flown to Dignitas in Switzerland for an assisted death if she had not been approved — but she knows this is not a viable option for most Canadians. As a result, she is speaking up for fairer assisted dying access in the country.

“It is so important that every Canadian has access to MAID where they live, in their home, on their hospital unit they’re admitted to,” she says, adding that MAID should be provided to individuals “wherever they are” and “as easily and comfortable” as possible for patients.

Campbell says she feels “fortunate” that she qualified for Bill C-14 and that getting accepted for MAID has brought her significant peace of mind.

“In the end, what MAID means to me [and] being approved, is a great deal of peace, that I can now get on,” she says. “I have really enjoyed these days of my life. It is also an opportunity that I have relieved myself of the worry of how I will die. [And it] relieves my family of the stress of going through that experience with me.”

Dying With Dignity Canada thanks Noreen Campbell for sharing her story.

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