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The immeasurable gift of life

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Baroness Ilora Finlay, a veteran campaigner for improving end of life care and an opponent of assisted suicide, has written a moving account of her mother's battle with breast cancer for the Huffington Post. 
At 84, her mother Thais felt she had lived a full life and was angry that she was not allowed to take her own life, when she seemed so near the end and felt she was a burden to her family. Her cancer had spread to her pelvis and lower back, and she did not want to receive chemotherapy.
Baroness Finlay found herself in the difficult position of fighting assisted suicide legislation in Parliament, even as her mother told her she wanted to die. She felt torn between her convictions and love for her mother.
But things began to change when the hospice chaplain asked Thais to tell her life story. As Thais reflected on the past, she was able to recognise that she still had something wonderful: her mind. This realisation inspired her to begin living whatever was left of her life to the fullest.
She took more painkillers and soon began to walk a few steps each day with a Zimmer frame, and then a few more steps. The radiotherapy that she had reluctantly agreed to, which previously seemed to offer little benefit, began to take effect and her pain went away.
Thais lived another four years. Of that time, Baroness Finlay says: “Those four years were almost more precious than the 84 that had preceded them. Of course, there were setbacks, bad days and umpteen practical problems to be overcome, but, oh, the stories she passed on and the things she saw, chief among which were the arrivals of two precious great-grandchildren.”
Thais’ health eventually began to fail again, but she did not mention assisted suicide as she drew nearer the end. Instead, she said “Thank you” often and relished the time she had with her family. 
Baroness Finlay reflects: “I will never regret that our law protected her; preventing her from ending her life when she was vulnerable to despair. Those four years we shared were the most precious gift. Without them, Mum would have missed what she described as some of the richest times in her life and we would have missed understanding just what an amazing person she was.
“I'm so grateful for the fact she was 88 when she died and not 84. But best of all? So was she.”

Related News:
High Court grants permission for Assisted Suicide challenge
Britain's suicide law: Fit for purpose

Related Coverage:
Mum Wanted to Die So She Wouldn't Be a Burden - But Convincing Her to Live Gave Us Both a Gift Beyond Measure (Huffington Post)