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Heather McQueen

After I watched my mother suffer a cruel and inhumane death from terminal cancer, I decided I would do everything I can to change the law.

My mum, Sheena Caskie, from Kintyre, was 79 when she died. She had been living with a rare form of anal cancer for more than two years.

She was one of those brave people who never complain. She dealt with it all very well. The radiotherapy treatment for her cancer had left her with third degree burns, and lying down was particularly painful. She was so sore sitting down that she ate standing up.

Last year doctors discovered a tumour was blocking my mum’s stomach. She could no longer digest food and her treatment options had run out.

My mum spent her final week in hospital, the four-hour ambulance trip to Glasgow Royal Infirmary had been so uncomfortable she could not return home.

When mum’s Church of Scotland minister came to visit, she told her she was dying and did not feel afraid. That is the point at which she should have been allowed to die. My mum believed strongly that there were circumstances in which people should have the right to choose to die.

That week that followed, as we watched everything unfold in its full horror, we watched the fear growing in her face. There was the hunger and being parched. She could not take fluids by mouth.

She was also in great pain from the radiation burns and tumours and all the tubes she was dealing with. They gave her morphine, but there are specific amounts of morphine you are allowed to give.

She could not speak. She would regularly try to say two things. She would try to mouth ‘sore’ or hold two fingers to her hand in the motion of a gun.

My mum had a massive turnout at her funeral. Almost everyone who contacted me afterwards said what a kind and funny person she was. She had a great life and an absolutely horrible death.

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