Dear Prime Minister Abbott,
Respectfully I am extending my hand of hope on a matter that confronts and challenges our deepest philosophical convictions about the meaning and purpose of life.
The matter is readily shaped and influenced by our religious and moral upbringing. It is also a matter that usually lies dormant until unexpectedly, one's foundation is rocked by the reality of one's or loved one's mortality with diagnosis of an illness, a disease determined by the medical world as terminal.
In a society that values, promotes and encourages personal responsibility, self-empowerment and ownership in how one shapes and lives their life, this freedom is not extended to the freedom to choose when to end one's life.
In life we must accept to expect the unexpected, for better for worse. I came to witness the realisation of my own mortality three days prior to Christmas Day 2011, when diagnosed with an insidious disease known as Motor Neurone Disease.
Motor Neurone Disease is a terminal condition where the nerve cells that control the voluntary muscles throughout your body are destroyed. Muscle weakness and wasting occurs throughout the whole body, leading to gradual paralysis, loss of speech, difficulty swallowing and finally death from respiratory failure.
The average life expectancy for someone with this cruel disease is only 27 months. About 1,900 people currently have Motor Neurone Disease in Australia, and this number is increasing.
Unfortunately, research funding is inadequate and root causes of the disease still an unknown. A cure is not on our immediate horizon and sadly, not in my diminished lifetime.
It is a slow and gruesome death. It is terrible to watch yourself physically fade away, while your mental state remains in pristine condition. If I am to describe my state, it is simply that I am becoming trapped within my body.
In fact, my body has become my coffin, alive within and virtually lifeless without.
But what is more painful and sobering than watching yourself accelerate toward an death before your time, is your family and friends watch someone they love and care suffer, waste away, and ultimately die before their eyes.
My wife and daughter do not deserve to witness such a tortuous end to a life, and the associated emotional trauma etched within their memory and heart.
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