MOTHERS’ DEATHS CONVINCE RACHEL FRIEND AND TRACEY SPICER TO BACK VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA CAMPAIGN
Mothers’ deaths convince Rachel Friend and Tracey Spicer to back voluntary euthanasia campaign
“I just want it to be over,” Rachel Friend’s mother told doctors. “Never let me have another seizure,” Shayne Higson’s mother implored her daughters. Before she spent her final days in a palliative care unit screaming in pain, Tracey Spicer’s mother had begged, “Don’t let me suffer”.
In a Northern Beaches park, the three women are talking about their mothers, about missing their mothers, and sharing a complex mix of emotion: love, loss, guilt, horror and rage.
“I still feel as though I betrayed her,” says Ms Spicer, 49. The journalist and columnist’s mother, Marcia, died in 1999 when she was 52, seven months after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Jan Ryder, mother of Shayne Higson who is Senate candidate for the Voluntary Euthansia Party.
In 2008, Ms Spicer revealed that she had hovered a pillow above her dying mother’s face. She was prepared to smother her.
For the Spicer family, the early hours of the morning were the worst. It was then that Marcia would emerge from an insensible twilight zone to be assailed by the worst of pain.
Her screams echoed through the palliative care unit at Redcliffe Hospital in bayside Brisbane. She begged for cannabis. She begged for heroin. Ms Spicer recalls pinning an oncologist to a wall, pleading for assistance to end her mother’s distress.
Marcia Spicer. “We’d always thought we’d find a doctor or nurse to help us,” says her daughter, Tracey Spicer.
“We’d always thought we’d find a doctor or nurse to help us.” No one did. Her mother kept screaming. Spicer could not bring the pillow down on her face. “It was against all my instincts.”
For Ms Friend, 46, a communications consultant and former actress, grief is raw and Mother’s Day will be desolate. Her mother, Judith, died in October 2015 from pancreatic cancer. She was 71