THE mother of a woman who is campaigning for a change in the law on assisted suicide has died following her long battle with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Jo Heward said it had been a difficult few weeks and her mum, Anne, had been in considerable pain before she died on January 20 surrounded by her family.
The 55-year-old had suffered from MS since her late teens.
Seven years ago, she had asked Jo to take her to Switzerland because she wanted help to end her life, but at the time her daughter had refused.
Jo said that at that point she had not realised how bad the condition would get or how much suffering she would have to endure.
“She has been in absolute agony and there was nothing any of us could do,” she said.
“Mum was given diamorphine, which made her sleep, and although her death is devastating, it was a relief when she went, knowing that she is at peace and no longer in pain.”
Jo, who had been her mum’s main carer until she moved into a care home, said she still believed that the law needed to be changed regarding assisted suicide.
“From the emails and messages I’ve had from people since mum died I know there are a lot of people out there who agree,” she said.
“I am pleased that it has helped more people to talk about it as well and I don’t feel like I am on my own.”
Jo said she had found the recent scenes on ITV’s Coronation Street, involving Roy and Hayley Cropper, upsetting because it brought everything home. “I have found it hard to watch and I know they are saying it was not assisted suicide, but in my mind because Roy didn’t do anything to stop it, then it was assisted,” she said.
“It has been heartbreaking to see my mum go through so much suffering.
“Had I known all those years ago what I know now I regret not making that trip with her.”
Jo now hopes to finish the book she has been writing called Living With MS, about her mum and her own experiences.
“Now mum has gone I can complete it and I hope to get it published in memory of her,” she said.
“I also want to continue to raise awareness of MS and I would like to set up a charity for people going through a similar crisis, again in memory of mum.”
Jo said she would like to thank everyone for their support and kind messages.
“Everyone is welcome to attend mum’s funeral and we will be having a horse-drawn hearse, which was one of mum’s wishes because she loved horses and it was working with horses that brought her to Norton.”
Anne Heward’s funeral will be at St Michael’s Church, Malton, at 1pm tomorrow, (Thursday) followed by an interment at Norton cemetery.
A collection will be held for the Ryedale branch of the MS Society.
Anyone who would like to contact Jo to support her campaign, can email firstname.lastname@example.org