Antonya's son died when he was 7. His mum just made a deathbed confession.

In 1979, Antonya Cooper was enduring every mother's worst nightmare. 

She was living with her five-year-old son Hamish in Oxfordshire, England. That year, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that starts in early nerve cells. It is one of the most common forms of cancer in children, according to WHO

With the cancer so aggressive, Hamish was given just three months to live.

Antonya had to watch her little boy battle through the pain, knowing that there was no chance of a full recovery. The cancer was terminal, and although Hamish surpassed doctor's expectations, surviving for a further 16 months, he passed away in 1981. 

It wasn't until years later that Antonya admitted that he didn't die on his own. She had helped him to pass when she knew that he didn't want to endure any more pain. 

Antonya recently spoke to BBC Radio Oxford, saying that she decided to "quietly end his life", with Hamish struggling and in "a lot of pain" due to his stage 4 cancer. 

"On Hamish's last night, when he said he was in a lot of pain, I said: 'Would you like me to remove the pain?' and he said: 'Yes please, Mama.'

"And through his Hickman Catheter, I gave him a large dose of morphine that did quietly end his life," she said. 


It was a heart-wrenching decision, but Antonya felt that it was Hamish's choice. 

"I feel very strongly that at the point of Hamish telling me he was in pain, and asking me if I could remove his pain, he knew, he knew somewhere what was going to happen.

"But I cannot obviously tell you why or how, but I was his mother, he loved his mother, and I totally loved him, and I was not going to let him suffer, and I feel he really knew where he was going," she said. 

Adding, "It was the right thing to do. My son was facing the most horrendous suffering and intense pain, I was not going to allow him to go through that."

During the interview, Antonya was asked if she knew she was admitting to manslaughter or murder. 

She said that she did, but didn't mind because she herself was "dying too." 

Antonya had been diagnosed with breast and pancreatic cancer, with the disease spreading to her liver. 

"If they come 43 years after I have allowed Hamish to die peacefully, then I would have to face the consequences," she said. "But they would have to be quick, because I'm dying too."


A week following the interview, Antonya passed away. 

Her daughter, Tabitha said that the 77-year-old died on July 8, surrounded by her family. 

"She was peaceful, pain free, at home and surrounded by her loving family," she said. "It was exactly the way she wanted it. She lived life on her terms and she died on her terms."

Tabitha also confirmed that they had an enquiry from Thames Valley Police following her mother's interview with the BBC

Assisted dying is still illegal in the United Kingdom, but this is currently being reviewed. In Australia, voluntary assisted dying (VAD) is legal but only in limited circumstances (including that the person is aged over 18 and has an incurable progressive illness that will cause death). 

Antonya was a staunch campaigner for assisted dying, saying, "We don't do it [let them suffer] to our pets. Why should we do it to humans?"

Those supporting the effort say that people should be able to choose when and how to die to avoid suffering. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for The Neuroblastoma Society said they had been "deeply saddened" by the news of Antonya's passing.

"Antonya’s contributions have been invaluable, and her legacy will live on through the vital research we fund," they added. 

During her life, Antonya wrote a book to help families living through life with sick children called This is Our Child: How Parents Experience the Medical World. 

Image: Facebook.

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