My father, Keith English, died on September 17, 2019 at 96 years of age.
He died peacefully and with dignity in my home, on his own terms and was in control of his life right up until the end.
My father was one of the first Victorians to access the Voluntary Assisted Dying Scheme which was legislated in November 2017 and came into force on June 19, 2019.
Watch: Andrew Denton on Euthanasia. Post continues below.
Keith was a strong and engaging man with a keen interest in people, and he loved to learn about others. He also never left you in any doubt on his thoughts and beliefs.
One of these was that voluntary euthanasia should be legalised in Australia.
When the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act was passed in 2017 by the Victorian government, Keith rang me and said that he was pleased that a genuine act of humanity had been made legal.
Finally, people who needed and wanted to access voluntary euthanasia now could.
In March 2019, Keith was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Whilst he was willing to fight and underwent multiple surgeries and radiotherapy, he got to the stage where further treatment was not an option.
As a passionate supporter of the human right to a dignified death and end to suffering Dad was very relieved when the VAD Act came into force just a couple of months later.
Keith decided to access the VAD Scheme and asked me to support him as he worked through the comprehensive application process to ensure that he met all legislative requirements.
It was an intense and emotionally charged time as we learnt about the VAD system and equally the VAD system learnt about people wanting to access it.
It was a learning curve for everyone involved including Dad, the extended family, doctors, specialists, nurses, pharmacists, and hospital administrators. Dad was pragmatic and accepting that his life was coming to an end, and he talked with Mum (his wife of 67 years) as he needed to be confident that she was at peace with his decision.
Mum gave him the support he needed, and he decided on the time and date he chose to leave this world: 11am on September 17, the same day his first grandchild was born.
The palliative care hospital where Dad had spent many weeks did not have VAD policies that would have enabled Keith to action his end of life choice. He therefore discharged himself from hospital and came to our home.
On September 17, Dad spent the morning reading and signing letters he had written to his loved ones – his wife, his five children and nine grandchildren.