Monday, November 14, 2011

Afghanistan veteran with brain cancer urges Canadians to support laws against assisted suicide

Afghanistan veteran with brain cancer urges Canadians to support laws against assisted suicide.

Nov. 14 – At the Vancouver Law Courts this morning, a trial begins that may result in the legalization of assisted suicide. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of B.C., an intervener in the case, is staging a demonstration to help inform Canadians about what such laws will mean for individuals.
Media are invited to attend today’s demonstration at the corner of Nelson and Hornby, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Onsite, EPCBC offers people who can explain why legalized assisted suicide would be bad for Canadians.
Afghanistan and Bosnia vet John Coppard, 45, is one of those people. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer two years ago, a Glioblastoma Multiforme, the Victoria resident became depressed when he realized his career was over, he’d probably never be a father or a grandfather, and his chance of surviving even five years was just 20 per cent.
If assisted suicide had been legal at the time, he believes he may have considered killing himself. But since then his condition has stabilized on a newly-approved medication. He even bought a sailboat.
“For those of us living with life threatening conditions, the system as it is offers us incredible hope,” Coppard said. “New therapies are discovered all the time. Everyone knows someone who was offered a terrible prognosis that turned out to be wrong. Doctors work hard to offer us the best chance at a long life and sometimes, recovery. I know mine are”
Assisted suicide, he said, undermines Canadians’ relationship with care providers.
“When you’re diagnosed with something like brain cancer or ALS, your treatments are very complex. You put a lot of trust in your doctors, your health care system and those closest to you to steer you through your illness. In my case I trust them completely. If assisted suicide is on the table, however, who will I be able to trust?” 
“I don't want any heroics. I'll go when it's time for me to go. But not when my medical system thinks it's too expensive to keep me alive, or when my doctor thinks I'm too much work.”
EPC BC’s spokespeople will be available for comment throughout the four-week trial.
Media contacts:
Cancer patient John Coppard 250-508-3446
Will Johnston, MD, president of EPCBC, 604-220-2042
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of EPC Canada, 519-851-1434

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