LOS­ING MY BOY HAS RU­INED ME

Barcelona ter­ror vic­tim tells of her dev­as­ta­tion

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - DANIELLE GUSMAROLI

WHEN Syd­ney mum Ju­marie Cad­man ar­rived home af­ter her world was torn apart in the dev­as­ta­tion of the Barcelona ter­ror at­tacks, she couldn’t even get through the front door.

Three times, Ms Cad­man tried to get into their Lalor Park home, but the ab­sence of her seven-year-old son Ju­lian, who was killed in the bar­baric Au­gust as­sault, was too stark.

“My husband had to take me back to hos­pi­tal twice and I fi­nally man­aged it the third time, go­ing in through the back gar­den. The hard­est was go­ing into Ju­lian’s play­room, his bed­room; I man­aged with the help of the hos­pi­tal’s so­cial worker,” she said.

Ms Cad­man, 43, has opened up about the Au­gust 17 at­tack for the first time ex­clu­sively to The Daily Tele­graph, telling of her an­guish over the loss of her only child in an as­sault that left her with dev­as­tat­ing in­juries.

“I don’t sleep, I miss him ev­ery hour. I loved be­ing a mum, but it’s all gone,” Ms Cad­man said.

She and her son were in Barcelona to at­tend her niece’s wed­ding for which Ju­lian was to be page boy, while Ju­lian’s dad Andrew Cad­man stayed at home.

The pair were on Las Ram­blas when Moroc­can-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, smashed into the crowds in a van, a cow­ardly act Is­lamic State was quick to claim its own. He killed 13 peo­ple and in­jured 130 more be­fore flee­ing, shot dead by au­thor­i­ties five days later.

“Sum­mer is com- ing but I feel there’s noth­ing to cel­e­brate and I still have the shoes and shirt I bought him in Spain for the wed­ding. Ju­lian was a bless­ing, who brought so much joy. I just want Ju­lian back, I don’t know why I sur­vived and he didn’t,” the wheel­chair-bound Ms Cad­man said through her tears.

“We had such a lovely day and I had bought him a toy torch be­cause he had been such a good boy. When we came out of the shop he was snatched from me. I just felt his hand go.”

Ms Cad­man’s cab­i­net-maker husband Andrew, 42, said: “You can’t re­build or re­pair the dam­age done — we’re still try­ing to make sense of (it).”

Ms Cad­man had ex­ten­sive surgery to fix her shat­tered legs and pelvis in Barcelona, re­turn­ing to Syd­ney in Septem­ber and trans­fer­ring to West­mead. But she will walk again. Ju­lian was laid to rest at Par­ra­matta’s St Patrick’s Cathe­dral on Novem­ber 4.

“I can’t thank the hos­pi­tal staff in Spain enough and West­mead; my so­cial worker. It’s been a short but long jour­ney. I want peo­ple to know Ju­lian and I are home,” Ms Cad­man said.

Very soon in NSW, par­lia­men­tar­i­ans will be vot­ing whether eu­thana­sia and physi­cian-as­sisted sui­cide should be le­galised in our state.

As a for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter and a ci­ti­zen of NSW, I have real fears that this will fur­ther dis­ad­van­tage our ru­ral and re­mote pop­u­la­tion; and we are al­ready do­ing it hard.

Pass­ing this bill will be in di­rect con­flict with prob­lems we face in the bush and will un­der­mine the agen­das ex­pe­ri­enced by peo­ple in ru­ral and re­mote com­mu­ni­ties, who are al­ready vul­ner­a­ble to un­equal ac­cess to many of the so­cial, men­tal health, aged and pal­lia­tive care ser­vices avail­able to those in the city or the wealthy.

Those who want the Bill say it is about choice, but there can be no real choice if we are not given ac­cess to the best pos­si­ble pro­vi­sion of care be­fore­hand, or if we are left with on­go­ing, un­ad­dressed agen­das that cre­ate suf­fer­ing in the bush.

Ad­vo­cates of eu­thana­sia and physi­cian-as­sisted dy­ing re­peat­edly present us with dif­fi­cult sce­nar­ios where in­di­vid­u­als re­quest as­sisted sui­cide in order to end their lives.

Of course we sym­pa­thise as none of us want to see peo­ple suf­fer­ing or in pain.

But how­ever well in­ten­tioned, com­pas­sion­ate ac­tions should first have us ad­dress­ing the causes of that suf­fer­ing, and le­gal­is­ing gov­ern­ment-spon­sored sui­cide will not do this.

All peo­ple in NSW should have at least had eq­ui­table ac­cess to the high­est qual­ity end-of-life care avail­able first.

Re­gional and re­mote ar­eas of NSW have higher rates of poor health and sui­cide, in­clud­ing amongst the young and es­pe­cially the in­dige­nous. What choice will the Bill give these in­di­vid­u­als if in the end there is no choice avail­able for their care? Is this bill go­ing to re­ally end suf­fer­ing as its ad­vo­cates claim, or will it just give the wrong mes­sage to our young and at risk that it is OK to com­mit sui­cide or think about sui­cide, rather than seek the help they should have a real right to as cit­i­zens of NSW? Ac­cess to good qual­ity pal­lia­tive care is proven to be the most re­li­able way of en­sur­ing high-qual­ity care at the end of a per­son’s life.

Fig­ures stated about pain by the ad­vo­cates of eu­thana­sia and as­sisted sui­cide are a gross ex­ag­ger­a­tion.

We know less than 1 per cent of peo­ple given best prac­tice pal­lia­tive care con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence pain.

Even then, they can ac­cess sec­ond and third line treat­ments to al­low them medicines and se­da­tion not to ex­pe­ri­ence symp­toms as they are dy­ing.

Those who want this bill would rather have many ex­pe­ri­ence the un­cer­tainty of tak­ing untested drugs, with­out op­ti­mum med­i­cal scru­tiny, and which may not nec­es­sar­ily en­sure a quick, pain-fee or sup­ported death.

A re­cent re­port by the NSW Au­di­tor-Gen­eral high­lighted that gaps are sig­nif­i­cant in ac­cess to pal­lia­tive care, es­pe­cially in re­gional and ru­ral NSW.

With­out ac­cess to these ser­vices, it is more likely peo­ple will feel pres­sured to ask for as­sisted sui­cide. The tragic and pre­ma­ture losses of many we al­ready ex­pe­ri­ence in the bush will only be in­creased.

The Cen­tre for Ru­ral and Re­mote Men­tal Health in NSW shows the rate of sui­cide out­side of the larger ci­ties is higher than for peo­ple who live in metropoli­tan ar­eas.

This rate is higher still in all ru­ral ar­eas from 2011 to 2015. The fig­ures for ill health, pre­ma­ture death and sui­cide are even worse in our in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion.

Our peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence unique prob­lems com­pared to city-dwellers that in­crease our risk for sui­cide.

Our liveli­hood is de­pen­dent on things of­ten out­side of our con­trol, such as the weather and fac­tors in the mar­ket place.

Whilst the is­sues of men­tal health prob­lems are sim­i­lar, our peo­ple are less likely to get help or ac­cess to ef­fec­tive treat­ment.

Less men­tal health ser­vices lead to de­layed di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment or man­age­ment of men­tal health con­di­tions.

If the state le­galises as­sisted sui­cide, the mes­sage be­ing sent to the vul­ner­a­ble is that death is a le­git­i­mate way to cope with suf­fer­ing in life.

More than eight peo­ple per day in Aus­tralia take their own lives through sui­cide. Do we re­ally want to en­cour­age this trend?

Who is go­ing to take the lead in im­prov­ing the health­care for our peo­ple in ru­ral and re­mote NSW?

Why are we spend­ing time and money con­sid­er­ing a law to le­galise gov­ern­ment-sanc­tioned sui­cide and eu­thana­sia when there is so much more we need to do to im­prove the qual­ity of life of our peo­ple?

And are we re­ally pro­vid­ing peo­ple in ru­ral and re­mote NSW with choice, or push­ing them fur­ther into a sit­u­a­tion where there is none?

Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans are fool­ing them­selves if they think pass­ing this bill will ease our suf­fer­ing.

They should re­ject these bills and fo­cus on im­prov­ing med­i­cal ser­vices, men­tal health and end-of-life care for all cit­i­zens in NSW.

The mes­sage be­ing sent to the vul­ner­a­ble is that death is a le­git­i­mate way to cope with suf­fer­ing in life

Ju­lian Cad­man, who was killed in the Au­gust Barcelona ter­ror at­tacks. Our Au­gust 19 front page in the wake of the aw­ful at­tack.

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