‘I wouldn’t have been a doctor if I hadn’t seen my dad suffer’
A DOCTOR who has had first-hand experience of caring for a loved one suffering from cancer believes her life would have been very different had she not gone through such a difficult time.
Dr Susan Wilson has joined those campaigning against assisted dying.
Suffering is a fact of life for a human being, she said, as she proclaimed she would give up her profession if assisted dying was to be introduced in the island.
Her father died slowly and horribly from lung cancer when she was 16, she said.
It was two years of terrible suffering for him, her mum and for herself.
‘As the months of suffering went on, as a teenager, I became very familiar with hospital wards and gradually this arts student decided that she would like to lead a life that helped people, as the doctors and nurses were doing.
‘I gave up Latin, took on biology and got the grades to go to university. Dad died six weeks before my GCSEs.
‘I would never have done that without those 24 months that all three of us shared together. We were kind to each other, we all suffered, but we loved deeper than we had ever loved before, we lived deeper lives than we had ever lived before. Time was short, yes, time was painful, but time was precious.’
Two years after her dad died, she entered medical school.
‘I would never have done that – ever – if we hadn’t had those 24 months together.’
She has been a doctor for nearly 40 years, graduating in 1979.
Her profession had also brought her together with her husband, Dr Douglas Wilson, like her a GP at Queen’s Road and Longfrie surgeries, and then her children and their families.
It had also seen her helping 25,000 orphans in Tanzania through the Tumaini Fund.
She added that her dad had asked her and her mum to stick together. ‘Those last days were the most meaningful and the most determining of future events of my whole life.
‘Suffering is a fact of life for a human being. My dear, dear friends in Tanzania know this very well.
‘If we had sanitised suffering out of our family life, certainly I, but also my Mum and even my Dad, would have lost so much.
‘My life would not have followed the path of service which it has done with all the joy that has brought me and hopefully help to others.’
Speaking as a doctor, she said her job had always been to do her best. And medical professionals must always strive to do better.
‘If you tell me that it is my job to end someone’s life you may take my stethoscope away and I will then go home and not return to the clinic.
‘My job is to give care and support, to nurture life, to protect it, never to end it.’
She was also against assisted dying as a Christian.
God told Moses we were not to kill, she added, and people would not go through what Jesus suffered.
‘Whatever we suffer, we have Jesus with us who went through all of this, and says to us – “surely, I am with you always, to the end of everything”.
‘We have enough to sustain us for the journey ahead, wherever that journey leads. We just need to ask for more trust in him to see us through.’
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