A Canadian mom diagnosed with aggressive stomach cancer has blasted doctors who told her to consider assisted suicide as ‘disgusting’, after she found alternative treatment in the US.
Allison Ducluzeau, 57, from Victoria in British Columbia, told Global News that consultants advised her to think about euthanasia, claiming the country’s universal healthcare system couldn’t save her.
Canada legalized Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), in 2016. It has since been aggressively expanded, and the nation saw over 10,000 assisted suicides in 2021.
Ducluzeau was confronted with the horrific prospect when she was diagnosed with a stage four abdominal cancer called peritoneal carcinomatosis late last year.
The Canadian’s family doctor said patients are normally treated with a high-dosage chemotherapy treatment called HIPEC and referred her to a surgeon at the BC Cancer Agency.
Allison Ducluzeau, 57, from Victoria in British Columbia, told Global News that consultants advised her to think about euthanasia, claiming the country’s universal healthcare system couldn’t save her
Canada is on track to record some 13,500 doctor-assisted suicides in 2022
But when she saw the consultant in January, she said they gave her the devastating news that she was not a candidate for the surgery because chemo is ‘not very effective’ for the cancer type.
Ducluzeau said they told her she only had two months to two years left to live, and advised talking to her family about whether she wanted to pursue assisted suicide.
Shocked by the news, Ducluzeau said telling her kids was ‘the hardest thing I’ve ever done’.
‘That was honestly the worst day of my life,’ she told Global News. ‘Just seeing how upset they were and having lost my own mum just a short while prior to that and knowing what it was like, like going through life without a mother.’
Ducluzeau left the heartbreaking conversation feeling determined to find another way, and after months of research she ended up flying to Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, for treatment she was refused in Canada.
She spent more than $200,000 for the surgery, chemotherapy, scans, travel and accommodation outside the comfort of familiar surroundings.
‘I would have much preferred to have been able to have this care at home where I could have had the support of friends and family and my husband could have as well because half the time I was out of it,’ she said.
‘But he was there by himself in a strange city, caring for someone and terrified about my well-being.’
Reflecting on her experience, she said: ‘I am so proud of where I live and being a Canadian and (living in) Victoria, I just never thought in a million years that that would be my experience.
‘I was disappointed and, in fact, disgusted by the way I was treated.’
The number of MAiD deaths in Canada has risen steadily by about a third each year from the previous year
Under Canada’s assisted suicide laws, anyone over the age of 18 with a serious illness, disease or disability can apply for a MAiD procedure.
After the law was introduced, Quebec emerged as the world’s euthanasia hotspot, as nearly 5,000 people opted for assisted suicides in the city last yearr.
Almost eight percent of all deaths in Quebec are assisted suicides — far higher than Canada’s other provinces and even such countries as Belgium and the Netherlands, which have much older euthanasia laws.
Canada is on track to record some 13,500 state-sanctioned suicides in 2022, a 34 percent rise on the previous year, according to an analysis of official data by Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
The country’s road to allowing euthanasia began in 2015, when its top court declared that outlawing assisted suicide deprived people of their dignity and autonomy. It gave national leaders a year to draft legislation.
The resulting 2016 law legalized both euthanasia and assisted suicide for people aged 18 and over, provided they met certain conditions: They had to have a serious, advanced condition, disease, or disability that was causing suffering and their death was looming.
The law was later amended to allow people who are not terminally ill to choose death, significantly broadening the number of eligible people.
Critics say that change removed a key safeguard aimed at protecting people with potentially decades of life left.
Today, any adult with a serious illness, disease, or disability can seek help in dying.
Euthanasia is legal in seven countries — Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain — plus several states in Australia. It’s only available to children in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Other jurisdictions, including a growing number of US states, allow doctor-assisted suicide — in which patients take the drug themselves, typically crushing up and drinking a lethal dose of pills prescribed by a physician.
In Canada, both options are referred to as MAiD, though more than 99.9 percent of such procedures are carried out by a doctor. The number of MAiD deaths in Canada has risen steadily by about a third each year from the previous year.