Month 4, Day 30: Cancer Council and Daffodil Day video

Hi, Below is a clip released by Cancer Council of Australia today on their web site. Strange how in my terminal cancer journey great things keep happening. In my past life running Coles Express/Shell, I had the joy of working with my team some 4500 strong, the Coles team some 95,000 plus strong, and Cancer Council of Australia to drive Daffodil Day as a major community fund raising event. In the past 3 years the Coles Express team and Shell have raised around 1.5 million dollars for Cancer support and research. This is before the many millions more the Coles Supermarkets team under Ian McLeod and Wesfarmers have raised over the last 5 years.

I wanted to do something significant after my first brush with cancer and this was leveraging the great work of Coles over many years with the Coles Express/Shell team. One must say however it is the customers who donate to really support everyone involved that makes the difference real. Thanks to you one  and all and please keep visiting our stores because the teams love to serve and help you.

The Cancer Council have honoured me by featuring my families story as part of this years campaign and have also involved me in asking everyone to think about a bequest in their will to help fund a solution to this insidious disease, that will be cured in my sons lifetime. As we move towards Daffodil day please think about helping and if you want to act today Coles Express Service/Shell stations have donation boxes on the counter in every store and they have huge things planned in the Daffodil day week so do come in and experience our difference especially Vpower our premium fuel. If cars could get cancer I reckon Vpower would fix them, thats how good it is!

It is interesting how having now morphed into a terminal cancer world with months to live, I  find myself advocating and fighting for legislative change around Dying with Dignety and the right of choice at end of life inspired initially by Dr Rodney Syme. Maybe it is just me, maybe it is serindipidy but I ask you to help. If you have a moment I would love you to see the raw and real me and my fantastic family……and a few pets and make a choice yourself around supporting change via the petition at the front of my blog or simply helping out with donations to Daffodil day.

Pain 0/10 Mental Health 10/10 Physical Health 8.5/10 Life Enjoyment 11.5/10

Month 4, Day 29: Early ABC interview

Hi, Really great day. My old blog site finally fixed itself so I have left a redirect note. I had a fantastic visit to the Age building and worked through how they make a Zone article and associated multi platform media. Really interesting. I also have received the film associated with my participation in Cancer Council launch of daffodil day a major fund raiser starting next week.Some exciting stuff and will link it.

My old boss from Coles got a great write up in the business pages that made me feel good he deserves all the god press he can get.

The clip at the bottom was on ABC radio this morning. Gives some more perspectives on dying with choice. ABC have taken a lot of voice and film and will use it across platforms in coming weeks. Let me know what you hear and think.Have also moved the petition to front of blog for more support,I am told 100,000 names makes a cause for change.

As yet Abbott and Napthine are ignoring me …I expect at some stage they will see the wisdom of talking about a huge poor set of laws around helping people and families at their most difficult and vulnerable time. Hard to be respectful of such avoidance when you have months left. Get angry friends in a loud and peaceful way.

PPS Thanks Matt my super Blog trainer.

Pain 0/10 Mental Health 10/10 Physical Health 8.5/10 Life Enjoyment 11.5/10

Month 4, Day 28: Petition for change to Tony Abbott and Denis Napthine

Hi, I am meeting a number of people who unfortunately had not caught on to the blog address change. I would ask all friends to let others know. Be it work,family or friend networks, it would help. Text them, ring them ,email them and twitter them. Gosh who would think I would ever become a media specialist! Let me know on the blog how you go. I will see it in the stats which say the daily hit rate is about 250. I want to maintain my prime blog objective of keeping friends in touch and aware of the process around terminal cancer. Secondarily I wish to ensure I use the Blog to involve the greatest number of people globally that I can so they may also travel the journey but have their voices heard via the blog and especially via the petition to the PM and Vic Premier,link below

Am in last week before big Chemo dose next week  so have had lots of energy. I have been thinking a lot after some of the recent interviews,about what Choice means at end of life. It is interesting to think through the need for family consensus, who should be there, at what stage you make a call. It seems to me one valuable part of choice is to act at a reasonable time so the maximum positives can be taken from the situation for myself and especially my wife and son. It raises interesting conversation in my family and with friends. What thoughts do you have around it?

The Project by the way is now on TV next Tuesday night at 6.30. I have not heard from the Vic Premier or the Prime Minister, both of who have had polite letters regarding a wish to engage. They must be aware ………are they frightened maybe like most people to talk about Death? If you know either of them pls ask them to get in touch.

Pain 0/10 Mental Health 10/10 Physical Health 8.5/10 Life Enjoyment 10/10

Month 4, Day 27: 3AW Interview with Neil Mitchell

Big day. Elizabeth and I got to further the discussion with Neil Mitchell around Choice and Dying with Dignity. We also had ABC come and do some shooting to be used in a piece in a few days and possibly on a number of platforms. Also had a chat with Change. Org petition campaign manager who is looking at ways to help. Finally a great chat with SBS who are sorting how they may get involved to help.

All that gets me to I am super tired and a bit shaky and we are going out to dinner with a close friend, in fact the friend who helped me edit my initial article in The Age, so I am off for a quick snooze. Enjoy the Neil Mitchell interview if you are interested.

PS The Project will not be airing tomorrow as earlier thought, I will let you know when.

Pain 0/10 Mental Health 10/10 Physical Health 8/10 Enjoyment of Life 10/10

Month 4, Day 26: First day on new Blog platform

Hi Welcome to this new blog platform and please send it around. The other platform was not reliable.

A lot has happened in my bouncing journey towards Deciding when I will Die.

The blog has the Age story and the link to the petition. Feel free to continue to spread it. Moving forward I find my life importantly focussed on 3 things. My family and friends, Dying with Dignity and the goal of getting legislative change, and some commercial work to keep sharp. Point of this is to say my story as it proceeds will be a mix of these things as this is for me the reality of a terminal diagnosis and how best to end my days.

Firstly the Age kicked of a lot of interest. I will see if I can get the radio interviews up I did with Jon Faine in Melb and 6PR drive time in Perth. Tomorrow I am going into 3aw for a live chat with Neil Mitchell about 9.30, a bit nervous. Then in arvo meeting with the ABC and on Wed I expect The Project will air a piece they came round and filmed with the family. On Friday I am meeting with some politicians and a contact who is going to help me see if we can’t get something moving there. I have still had no response from the Prime Minister or the Premier of Vic to my letters and public request for a meeting, really sad that leaders won’t talk about what the troops need  to discuss. Have also winged of a good spirited not to Clive Palmer just in case.

Family and friends have been fun with the highlight being Elizabeth and I are just back from 4 tremendous days with our good friends and their 2 boys and dog, The Chazinator in NZ. The highlight being participating in a raging 15 year olds bday party.

On the health front I had some surprise news from the scan a week or so back with the results all being an improvement on the one in Jan. Nothing to get 2 excited about as the end is inevitable but every day counts so fantastic result.

Thats it for now, so glad I have a blog that works and please help spread the new address.

Pain 0/10 Mental Health 10/10 Physical Health 8.5/10 Life Enjoyment 10/10


Dying with Dignity Petition


Your choice at Death. Make Australia not just a great country to live in, but a great country to die in also! Don’t let me die thinking I could have done more.

Make a difference, follow the link below and read how your signature can change the world we live in for the better, and for everyone. Show your support for the currently tabled Dying with Dignity legislation in Federal Parliament for discussion.

Thanks everyone who has signed for change already, and please keep spreading the link.

Please click here to sign the Dying with Dignity petition.

Let there be no doubt, I will decide when I die

My story is simple. I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer five years ago and made a full recovery. Or so I thought.

On 28 January this year, my 57th birthday, I was told it had returned – terminally. At the time of writing, I have a prognosis of five months. I am hoping for a bit more than that, but it is clear I will die within months.

And I will die at the time I select. I respect those who believe it is better to hold on until the very end, whatever suffering that entails. Both paths are dignified. What is undignified is not having the choice.

I have become intimately aware of the debate raging around physician-assisted death and the right for people to choose the timing. Recently, Dr Rodney Syme, in The Age and elsewhere, has declared he has, in contravention to laws that should be changed, helped many terminally ill people end their lives.

Dr Syme is taking risks as he fights for decent and enlightened change. His advocacy has inspired me.

Dr Syme has, for the first time, admitted he gave a man called Steve Guest the drug Nembutal and the information on how to use it to end his life about 10 years ago. The case has eerie parallels for me. I have the same cancer Mr Guest suffered, and I even had a holiday house at Point Lonsdale, where he lived.

In the time I have left, I believe I must do what I can to fight for everybody’s right to freedom of choice to control life’s end process if facing a terminal illness.

This is not a legal, religious, moral, budgetary or bioethical issue for me, nor do I suggest it should be for you. It is simply about common sense, and compassion for people suffering physically, psychologically and existentially. I will not accept dying at the end of a morphine drip in a drugged state. It would not benefit my family, my friends or me.

I would like my last life scene to be one of great beauty and warmth – and perhaps even of inspiration for those around me and for me.
Many people fear death, often because of a lack of control. For decades we have put the dying, medical practitioners, law enforcement agencies and families of terminally ill people in an invidious legal and human situation. There has been so much unnecessary suffering. Choice is a powerful palliative force, I now know. There is an immediate and direct benefit from having end-of-life choice. It can restore some confidence and dignity to those whose circumstances have stripped them of autonomy.

Just knowing I have that choice vastly improves the quality of the life I have left. Dr Syme talks beautifully of this. Indeed, it is believed the majority of terminally ill people who are given the means and knowledge to end their lives actually do not use it.

And now I must face this labyrinthine, unfair system that blocks my right to choose. Some people fret that legalising physician-assisted death would create hazards. There are understandable concerns – for example, that people might be clinically depressed at the time they state they want the option of physician-assisted death or that some might be manipulated by greedy and unscrupulous relatives. But these issues can be dealt with effectively and carefully, as Dr Syme points out has happened in other places.

The reality for me is that after a lifetime of doing my best as a husband, father and member of the community, I now face a life-changing challenge to use the short time I have left to fight for change about which I am passionate. It should be of concern to us all – death is the only certainty.

The mandating of the right to choose end of life for the terminally ill is tragically overdue. I am doing this for my family and friends, for myself and for the entire community. It is also about passing on the experiences and insights I have had through living with cancer during the past five years.

Why have Australia’s lawmakers failed to have the decency and courage to reflect in statute what so many know: that compassionate medical professionals are, in effect, helping suffering people choose the timing of their death?
The politics seems tortured and leaderless. Where are the politicians prepared to drive change? The current situation leaves the medical and legal systems in an excruciating, unconscionable limbo.

I have written a letter to seek a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott. I call on him and Premier Denis Napthine, a vet by background who has surely euthanased a number of animals, to put in place a party position that the terminally ill should have access to physician-assisted death, with appropriate guidelines. I would like to meet with him to offer assistance.

Surely Victorians deserve at least the same respect and compassion as the animals Dr Napthine cared for. My wife and I said goodbye to a loved and dying cocker spaniel seven years ago in our home. The vet administered a lethal injection and my wife held and kissed Blue as she calmly drifted off.

It is wrong that I cannot choose to pass away with my wife’s and sons’ arms around me and a kiss on the head. As it stands, my prolonged death would probably be well-managed – I have a great medical team around me. But days or weeks in bed on debilitating doses of drugs, with me having no control, is not the way I will die.

I will go out of my wonderful life at a time of my choosing, with our dog Missi’s ear in my hand and my family by my side. I have met with Dr Syme, and he has given me the assurance I need around choice, and that helps underpin the calmness and joy I feel as I get to embrace the remainder of my thrilling existence.

To help others facing terminal illness, and to help ventilate and inform the struggle for the right to choose, I am writing a blog, and would welcome comments and questions: