Cheryl Rostek, who has terminal brain cancer, urges the Fraser Health board not to allow Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in hospices at the board’s public meeting April 11 in Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Cheryl Rostek, who has terminal brain cancer, urges the Fraser Health board not to allow Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in hospices at the board’s public meeting April 11 in Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Woman with brain cancer urges Fraser Health board to ban medically assisted dying in hospice

More than 100 attend emotional Chilliwack meeting that ended up focused on MAiD

Cheryl Rostek’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis means every moment she spends with her husband and three children is focused on living well.

As she addressed the board of Fraser Health at a public meeting held Wednesday in Chilliwack, her emphasis on “living” was intentional in an emotional entreaty to ban Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) from hospices.

“It comforts me greatly to know that my community has comprehensive palliative services,” Rostek told board chair Jim Sinclair, Fraser Health CEO Michael Marchbank and the rest of the board. “However, it alarms me that Fraser Health is on a path towards mandating that hospices provide MAiD. I strongly petition you to segregate MAiD from palliative and hospice services.”

More than 100 people packed into the small conference room at the Hampton Inn Wednesday morning, most of whom were there to hear the conversation about MAiD. This was made evident when virtually everyone in the room gave a standing ovation after Rostek read her words at the podium.

“To continue providing myself, my husband and my three young children with vital and life-bolstering care I sincerely urge Fraser Health to safeguard a palliative environment of vulnerability, openness and wholehearted support by excluding hospice programs and services from the provision of MAiD,” she said.

The controversial issue at stake is over the former BC Liberal government’s MAiD law and its implementation by the current government, and Fraser Health’s mandate that MAiD be provided at all Fraser Health facilities.

• READ MORE: Controversy over assisted dying in hospice growing in Chilliwack

Those opposed to allowing MAiD in hospices run the gamut from those strongly opposed to euthanasia on religious grounds to those who think there should be designated facilities for assisted suicide.

“I think it’s fair to say with out contradiction that this is a controversial issue,” Fraser Health board chair Jim Sinclair said after Rostek spoke.

He added, however, that the courts have mandated that MAiD is a fundamental legal right, so Fraser Health decided that a patient’s final place of rest should be where assisted suicide be allowed to take place, adding that it is wrong to move people out of hospice for the procedure.

“Our decision is that when people go to hospice they need to have the right to exercise their rights under the law,” Sinclair said, in part. “Hospices are people’s home, their last home, where they make some of the most important decisions.”

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness has spoken strongly against allowing MAiD in hospice.

“My concern is that people will fear that their safety is in jeopardy and they will avoid palliative care,” Throness said a month ago. At Wednesday’s meeting Throness was not present but his constituency assistant read a statement from the MLA again expressing his opposition.

“Societal pressure to accept MAiD is increasing rapidly and it threatens to permeate palliative care,” his statement said.

Sinclair pointed out there is some uncertainly exactly how the MAiD policy will roll out as there are hospices run by Fraser Health, ones contracted by the health authority, and ones run by religious denominations. Sinclair said religious hospices will not be ordered to permit MAiD, adding that no employee of Fraser Health will be required to participate.

Chilliwack Hospice Society executive director Sue Attrill said the society does not own or run the Cascade Hospice. That is done by a private, for-profit company, so the board overseeing the hospice has little say on Fraser Health policy.

“The mandate for MAID to be provided in hospices came from Fraser Health in December 2017,” Attrill said in an emailed statement from the society. “Chilliwack Hospice Society does not provide MAID. As a society we do not operate the hospice beds in Chilliwack. We do not provide services that hasten death or prolong life or offer medical advice or counseling. At Chilliwack Hospice Society, we provide emotional support to individuals and families during the dying and grieving process.”

Speaking out at the end of the meeting Wednesday, and underlying the religious underpinnings of much of the opposition to MAiD, was 85-year-old retired doctor Madeline McPherson who pointed to the Christian bioethics approach to medicine. She also quoted the Bible, and expressed her religious opposition to not only euthanasia but abortion.

“We have to remember when we are accepting a practice that perhaps contradict God’s plan, we are actually entering a stage where the future of our nation will be ending in a foreboding way,” she said to much applause.

But it was Rostek’s poignant words that drew the strongest reaction from the large crowd as she considered her own vulnerability, living as she has already past the average survival for individuals with her particular brain cancer.

“I plan to live until I succumb to my disease,” she said. “This is an entirely different mindset than choosing to die prematurely. These two mindsets cannot co-exist, certainly not housed under the same roof.”

• RELATED: Langley Hospice Society formalizes its opposition to medically assisted dying directive


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Cheryl Rostek, who has terminal brain cancer, urges the Fraser Health board not to allow Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in hospices at the board’s public meeting April 11 in Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Cheryl Rostek, who has terminal brain cancer, urges the Fraser Health board not to allow Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in hospices at the board’s public meeting April 11 in Chilliwack. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Fraser Health board chair Jim Sinclair (right) responds to the issue of MAiD in Hospice at the board’s public meeting April 11 in Chilliwack. On the left is Fraser Health CEO Michael Marchbank. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Fraser Health board chair Jim Sinclair (right) responds to the issue of MAiD in Hospice at the board’s public meeting April 11 in Chilliwack. On the left is Fraser Health CEO Michael Marchbank. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Dozens of people in attendance at the Fraser Health board’s public meeting April 11 in Chilliwack stand up to applaud after terminal brain cancer patient Cheryl Rostek spoke. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Dozens of people in attendance at the Fraser Health board’s public meeting April 11 in Chilliwack stand up to applaud after terminal brain cancer patient Cheryl Rostek spoke. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Retired doctor Madeline McPherson, 85, expresses her opposition to euthanasia to the Fraser Health board at its public meeting in Chilliwack on April 11. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Retired doctor Madeline McPherson, 85, expresses her opposition to euthanasia to the Fraser Health board at its public meeting in Chilliwack on April 11. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Cloverdale man said public pressure only convinces church goers they are right

Engageing churches in discussions on how to reduce transmission would be more effective than bans

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read