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Woman with terminal breast cancer fast-tracks plans to end life at Dignitas due to lockdown and UK laws

Ellen Manning
·2-min read
Health insurance, The patient was treated at the hospital with the health of the insured.
A breast cancer sufferer said she has brought forward her plans to travel to Dignitas in Switzerland due to the impending second lockdown in England. (Stock picture: Getty)

A 45-year-old suffering from breast cancer has fast-tracked plans to end her life at Swiss clinic Dignitas due to “antiquated laws” and the impending second national lockdown in England.

The British woman has reportedly been granted a special waiver by the Swiss government to allow her to travel for a final appointment at the euthanasia clinic, near Zurich, without having to self-isolate for 10 days.

The woman told the Sunday Times she has brought her plans forward to avoid an “agonising, protracted death” due to the UK’s ban on assisted dying as well as the imminent second national lockdown, set to start on Thursday.

This picture taken on July 14, 2009 shows the building of the assisted suicide clinic, Dignitas in Pfaeffikon near Zurich.  A renowned British conductor and his wife have died in the assisted suicide clinic Dignitas in Switzerland, their family said. Edward Downes, 85, was almost blind and deaf, and his 74-year-old wife Joan was terminally ill when they chose to end their lives, a statement released to the BBC said.   AFP PHOTO/ SEBASTIAN DERUNGS (Photo credit should read SEBASTIAN DERUNGS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Dignitas clinic near Zurich. (Stock picture: Getty)

Writing in the newspaper, she said she felt she should go now, before she was “truly ready”, saying the coronavirus regulations would mean she would be “forced to die in the presence of strangers, in unfamiliar surroundings, without my husband, family or friends to comfort me”.

The woman, who previously worked as a senior mental health professional in the NHS, said the current UK laws that rule assisted suicide illegal and punishable by up to 14 years in prison have created a “cruel” situation and said she had been met by a “wall of silence” when trying to discuss the issue with medics.

She said: “When I have attempted to speak openly about what I feel is a perfectly rational desire to avoid a traumatic death, I have been met by a wall of silence from doctors.”

Watch: Assisted dying could be legalised in the UK within four years

She told the Sunday Times she was diagnosed with stage four secondary breast cancer last September, then learned in August that it had spread to her liver.

She said she is in considerable pain and suffers from extreme fatigue and nausea, and is likely to die from blood poisoning, suffocation or strokes due to cancerous tumours in her brain.

The woman told the newspaper she “desperately wants to live” but since she cannot she is trying to seek an option that will allow her a peaceful death - something that is currently impossible due to UK laws.

Watch: What is long COVID?