B.C.'s Noreen Campbell reflects on her choice in new video series

British Columbia's Noreen Campbell recognized the value and the power of sharing her story.

Before she had the peaceful death she so desired on January 12, the long-time nurse made it a priority in her final months of life to share her perspectives on planning for end of life, requesting assisted dying and the country’s new medical aid in dying legislation. In the weeks before she died, she did interviews with the Victoria Times Colonist, The Globe and Mail and with CBC Radio host Dr. Brian Goldman. She was candid and honest until the very end, offering an intimate and rare glimpse into her journey.

Now, thanks to a close collaboration between Noreen and Jeffrey Brooks of the Dying With Dignity Canada Victoria chapter, her unique and powerful voice lives on in a new DWDC video series: Noreen Speaks.

In the videos, which were recorded at her home in North Saanich, B.C. between September 2016 and January 11, 2017, Noreen speaks openly and poignantly about various end-of-life concerns. The consummate educator, she hoped the videos would serve to educate the general public, as all Canadians continue to grapple with a new constitutional right and reality.

In the first instalment of Noreen Speaks, Noreen reflects on what “quality of life” means, and how changes in her quality of life ultimately influenced her decision to access medical assistance in dying.

“Quality of life is, I think, the ability to hopefully have your symptoms managed so that you [are] able to continue to do things that are worth living for,” she says, adding that her turning point came when she realized that the entirety of her days was spent just hoping she could manage her symptoms.

“It’s like being on a journey that you have no idea where the end is,” she says. “You might think you [know], but then you discover you’re on a different train.

“You get to the point that your life expectations and the future [are] not good, and for chronically ill people, all you’re doing is living longer, not better.”

DWDC will be forever grateful to the late Noreen Campbell for sharing her story, and we thank Jeffrey Brooks for his tremendous work producing the Noreen Speaks videos. Watch the DWDC blog for future instalments of Noreen Speaks.

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