On the last leg

PERTH’S Belinda Teh is on the last leg of her 3500km walk across Australia inspired by her mum Mareia’s painful death.

After a 70-day walk, the voluntary assisted dying advocate is due to reach parliament house at 1pm on Tuesday August 6.

She hopes to share her story and present white roses – her mum’s favourite flower – to premier Mark McGowan as parliament prepares to consider a bill legalising VAD.

Ms Teh was 23 when she lost her 62-year-old mum, a nurse, to breast cancer in February 2016.

“After the diagnosis, she underwent invasive tests only to be given a few short weeks to live. Blood tests revealed chemo treatment was actually shortening her life.

“When my mum asked doctors for the option to ‘go quicker’ they replied they could only keep her comfortable.”

Ms Teh says her mum’s last weeks were horrific.

“Even constant pain relief did nothing to relieve her suffering.

“Grabbing a glass of water from her bedside was torturous for her.

“The final four to five hours of life for mum involved morphine injections every 15 minutes.

“She was unrecognisable, looking already dead with waxy skin, making raspy choking sounds and twitching.

“It is unacceptable to me that anyone go through that kind of suffering.

“When someone has no options left except painful death, they should be allowed to have a say in how they go.”

• Belinda Teh before she struck out on her walk across the country.

Ms Teh hopes more people will have the courage to talk about this controversial subject.

“I want honest, open discussion amongst MPs, clinicians, nurses and citizens at large.”

She’s had lots of positive feedback from MPs, and says more than 1000 people have shared similar stories to hers.

Speaking of the choices sufferers and families have when faced with immense suffering through terminal illness, Ms Teh says “people shouldn’t have to be doing this alone.

“When community comes together to speak out about things we care about, the topics that seem morbid can become uplifting and hopeful. It can be about compassion and love.”

The Australian Medical Association WA has had many vocal objections to voluntary assisted dying under former president Omar Khorshid, and new president Andrew Miller says they still have concerns about the bill’s impact on “vulnerable people” and want to ensure “that no individual requests VAD simply because they are unable to access [palliative] care”.

by TATIANA DALIN

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