Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Begging for the End

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Begging for the End

Article excerpt

Vani Naidoo

LAST week my father-in-law lost his battle with cancer.

As battles go, it was one with no quarter given, no mercy shown.

For more than a decade since diagnosis and treatment, he had held the cancer at bay. No arrogance or celebration at outwitting the disease, just the dogged determination of a hardened navy man who knew the strength of patience.

But cancer is not without its own stoic stand, niggling and fussing, it does its most dangerous work when the waters appear calm.

When the disease returned last year, it did so without ceremony, a storm that showed its hand with such ferocity that even for those of us watching, it was hard to breathe.

And so began the rollercoaster. More radiation and chemotherapy to eke out a few more months, endless visits to medical professionals, the pharmacy on speed dial...

Of course his family rallied and those of us who could, stepped up to ensure the practicalities were attended to. In all honesty, my husband and I were grateful to have something to do, something to divert the attention, to make us feel effective in an ineffective situation.

We busied ourselves with ensuring he got the medical care he needed, that he received the support he required to stay in his home as long as possible and when the time came, the peaceful end he craved.

Along the way his life was touched by doctors and nurses and support staff who went more than the extra mile, community workers whose kindness I can only marvel at and friends who made him laugh when he lost his hair and even when his legs no longer worked.

The administrative journey, though, was an eye-opening one and left me in little doubt that despite the fact we live in a country that does more than some to look after its ill and infirm, it simply doesn't do enough.

We continue to fail them with a tangle of red tape, with complicated claims processes and with a dearth of the palliative care beds that would not only bring a dignified death but untold comfort for grieving families.

It is not just or humane to convolute assessment procedures and to have so little communication between government departments, that sick people - those that need help the most - become just a number, the impact they have made on lives and the community belittled by people following systems that make no sense. …

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