A DYING daughter said goodbye seven times before she died an agonising and slow death as her mum calls for compassionate euthanasia.
Fiona Strong, 31, was put into a drug-induced sleep expecting to never wake again after cancer took away her ability to move, eat or drink.
But instead of “sleeping” peacefully after saying her final goodbyes, she continually woke up over the next four days screaming in agony, Mirror reports.
Confused and terrified, she cried out for her loved ones – forcing mum Susan to say another “last goodbye” to her daughter.
After seven heartbreaking goodbyes and days of continual pain, Fiona eventually passed away at The Margaret Centre at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London on May 1.
Her mum is now campaigning for a shake up on assisted dying laws – and says she would have helped her daughter end her own life if possible.
She told the newspaper: “We must have said our goodbyes six or seven times until she finally passed away.
“She underwent five days of continual waking and pain. Every time she fell asleep, we thought that would be it. It would be very upsetting – then she’d wake up again.
“At one point, she woke up and was thirsty. I gave her a drink and she said. ‘Mum, stop trying to keep me alive.’ It was scary for her as well.
“It’s not what she wanted. It was torturous.”
Fiona was diagnosed with rare and aggressive childhood cancer rhabdomyosarcoma in October 2015 after complaining of headaches, nausea and a “numb” face.
Medics discovered a tumour located in the bone and sinus behind her right eye – causing her to undergo 14 months of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
She suffered facial paralysis and spent her 29th birthday in intensive care battling sepsis but brave Fiona battled on and even helped others by raising £10,000 for cancer charities.
In 2017, she was given the all-clear but tragically doctors found a new tumour just four months later that later spread to her brain, nose, neck, shoulder and spine.
She was admitted to the hospice on April 9 where she was put on a cocktail of drugs to treat her excruciating pain.
Susan said: “She was on so many drugs, but they still couldn’t control the pain.
“She said to me, ‘I’m going to give it till April 27. If I don’t feel any better, I want you to help me end my life. Take me to Switzerland or something’.”
The cancer continued to spread and Fiona lost all mobility in her legs, couldn’t walk and could only partially move her neck. She also struggled eating as her tongue was so swollen.
She then told doctors she wanted to”die with dignity” and not be a “vegetable” and was informed she could undergo end-of-life treatment that would cause her to fall into a “deep sleep”.
Assisted suicide – the law
Both euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in the UK.
Euthanasia, sometimes known as mercy killing, is the practice of intentionally ending someone’s life to relieve their pain and suffering, while assisted suicide involves the person wishing to die taking an active role in ending their own life.
Euthanasia carries a maximum penalty of life in jail, and assisted suicide 14 years.
The only exception is “passive euthanasia”, which is where treatment that might extend someone’s life is withdrawn – such as a life machine being turned off.
The only alternatives for terminally ill patients in the UK are hospice care or refusing treatment, which mentally capable patients have the right to do.
Patients can give an “advance decision” to refuse treatment or opt for terminal sedation, which means they will be kept unconscious as death approaches.
As a result, some terminally ill people decide to travel abroad to die to clinics such as Dignitas in Switzerland.
The sedation has been used for decades to relieve the suffering of the terminally ill and involves syringe drivers and no food or water.
Susan said: “We all sat around her bed and said our goodbyes. We thought that that was going to be it. But it never happened… she kept waking up.
“In some ways it was alarming because we were pleased she’d woken up selfishlessly. It was like a rollercoaster”.
Susan is now fighting for compassionate euthanasia and said she would have taken her to Dignitas in Switzerland if she was well enough.
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Barts Health NHS Trust said: “This was a very sad case and we offer our deepest condolences to Ms Strong’s family.
“Although we increased Ms Strong’s sedation to relieve agitation as safely as we could she did experience some consciousness in her final days.
“Our priority is always to relieve any distress to patients throughout their illness and at the end of their life, and we will always strive to involve patients and their families in deciding the appropriate medication to meet their needs.”
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