Louise Elliot does not want to die.
But what she fears above all is her young children watching her slowly slip away in pain.
“As good as palliative care is, I don’t want to be in pain that can’t be controlled,” she told ABC Radio Hobart.
“I don’t want to be in a situation where days and weeks are drawing past where I don’t even have the ability to smile.
“I could not tolerate inflicting a significant amount of trauma on my young kids. I want to go to sleep peacefully.”
The mother of two was diagnosed with stage-three cancer of the urethra four years ago and whilst she beat it back then — and is hopeful of beating her latest diagnosis — she admitted it could “go all completely pear-shaped”.
At present, that is not a comfort Tasmania can offer.
Voluntary assisted dying remains illegal in the state, where euthanasia laws have failed to pass Parliament three times, most recently in 2017.
Both Western Australia and Victoria have now legalised voluntary assisted dying — Louise said if it came to it, she would move to Victoria, where she would have to live for a minimum of 12 months before she could access the service.
“I’d most definitely pack up and move,” she said.
For Susan*, that possible future is her reality.
“I firmly believe that we have a right to decide what happens to our own bodies,” she told ABC Radio Hobart.
Susan has lung cancer. She has had two major operations and been through chemotherapy.
“It’s so ravaging on your body going through chemo and major operations,” she said.
“I am now going to sell my home and move to Victoria because I want the choice.
But there’s hope on the horizon for those wanting to die on their own terms.
Fourth assisted dying bill planned for later this year
Independent MLC Mike Gaffney plans to introduce a voluntary assisted dying bill to Parliament’s Upper House in August or September.
If it passes the Legislative Council, it will face a conscience vote in the House of Assembly — and the numbers are likely to be tight.
The bill will be supported by a petition started by sisters Natalie and Jacqui Gray and tabled by Greens leader Cassy O’Connor.
It is a cause close to the sisters’ hearts — less than one year ago they watched their mother Diane pass away in what they described as “excruciating pain”.
“Jacqui and I carry so much guilt for not being able to follow our mum’s wishes,” Natalie said.
“We made a promise to her in her final week that we would advocate for other people, so they wouldn’t have to suffer the way that she did.”
Through their journey to change the law they’ve heard heartbreaking stories they said were worse than their own.
“There’ve been stories of extreme measures taken to avoid the ravishes of disease — people who’ve taken their own lives into their hands and who’ve died alone,” Natalie said.
Their petition has received more than 6,000 signatures, which they said is the highest number of signatures in the history of Tasmania to be put before the House of Assembly.
But they say the fight is far from over, and Louise is right behind them.
“It’s the humane thing to do. We often treat our animals humanely when there’s nothing more that can be done. The same should be available for people,” Louise said.
*Name has been changed.