Andrée

Kim’s Story – July 2021

Five years ago, my daughter Kimberly chose Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) after a very long painful battle with cancer.

Kim was diagnosed with cutaneous t-cell lymphoma (CTCL) in 2006. She was 20 years old. When she was diagnosed, we were told CTCL was an old man’s disease, not typically found in young people and that this type of lymphoma was not an aggressive cancer.

At first the treatment and prognosis were encouraging. However, after three years, the cancer became more aggressive, and Kim was referred to an oncologist at the Ottawa General Hospital. He proposed a course of six chemotherapy treatments and told us she should be in remission in six months.

Unfortunately, her cancer did not respond to the chemotherapy and six treatments turned into months and years of chemotherapy treatments, radiation treatments, a stem cell transplant and blood transfusions.

Living with cancer at such a young age was very challenging. However, every time we met with her oncologist, he reminded Kim that her quality of life was as important as her treatments.

So, through years of treatments, Kim kept working when she felt well enough; she completed her Early Childhood Education diploma and she got married. She even went to Italy with her sister in February 2016 for her 30th birthday.

Sadly, in eight months later, her oncologist met with us to share that all treatment options had been exhausted. He said Kim had three to six months left. It was the most heartbreaking news we have ever received.

She did not want to die at 30. She held on and we celebrated her 31st birthday in February 2017. At the end of April, Kim made the decision to ask for Medical Assistance in Dying. She was in so much pain that I was grateful she was able to choose MAiD. Once she made this decision, it gave her a sense of regaining control of her life.

She chose to spend her last days in the hospital, and she was able to choose when MAiD would take place.

She took advantage of the waiting period to say goodbye to loved ones and to the medical staff who had taken such good care of her over the years.

As she was unable to visit with everyone, she posted a beautiful message on social media thanking everyone for their support during her long illness and explaining her decision to choose MAiD. Her post generated wonderful testimonials of love from family, friends, and co-workers, which she was able read.

On her last day, her husband, her sister, and I spent the day reminiscing and sharing stories. It was an incredibly special day. We all felt that Kim made the right decision in choosing MAiD. Her suffering ended as she peacefully fell asleep.

Although it is hard to live without my daughter, I am grateful that she was able to choose MAiD.

When Kim chose MAiD, I would have liked to speak to another parent whose child had made the same choice. I made enquiries but there was no such resource available at the time. When I found Bridge 4 You, I knew immediately I wanted to be part of this amazing group of volunteers to support applicants and loved ones on their MAiD journey.