There’s Angelina Jolie, Bill Clinton, Ben Stiller, Mel Books, Cate Blanchett, Richard Dawkins, Bob Hawke, Michael Parkinson … the list of celebrities, politicians, thought game-changers and the simply fascinating touches all corners of the globe and all walks of life.
One name that doesn’t seem to fit that list is Liz.
Liz was 48, a businesswoman and dying of terminal cancer. Denton interviewed her as part of his 17 part podcast series produced in conjunction with The Wheeler Centre, Better Off Dead, that looks into the complex issue of assisted dying in Australia and asks why “good people are being forced to die bad deaths”.
“I’ve had the privilege of interviewing some great people in my career,” Denton half laughs.
“Liz is in my top ten. If life is water she was an Alka Seltzer.”
Watch Andrew Denton describe his stance on euthanasia below (post continues after video).
At the time of the interview, Liz – who has since passed away – was dying painfully and cruelly. When ‘every single door closed behind her’ she wanted to be able to save herself from unnecessary suffering. But no-one would help her die and she had to organise her death herself. It was complicated because she didn’t want to die violently and she didn’t want to risk any legal consequences for her 26-year-old son Callum or her brother. She researched the lethal and illegal drug Nembutal, bought it and spent six hours, on one of her last days, weighing it on her kitchen table and conducting tests for purity. She was forced to contemplate dying alone. She didn’t want to die alone.
Liz was articulate and laughed and cried with Denton. She was pragmatic and protective of her family. Denton followed her over her last year as she walked him through her life, her pain and the possibilities and planning of how she will die.
In one of the many memorable and aching excerpts from the podcast Denton asked Liz “in a perfect world” how would her death be.
She said she would be in her bed surrounded by her family and she wouldn’t want to make to big a deal of it.
“I imagine holding Callum’s hand and thinking about his birth at my death,” she said, her voice breaking. “I’d like it to be peaceful and without the anxiety of what is going to happen to these people that are with me now.”