By Laura Lynott and Barry Lord
A RIGHT-TO-DIE campaigner said she was taunted by an online troll telling her ‘You’re going to die soon, what do you need money for?’ – after launching an appeal to pay for modified furniture and her funeral.
Kate, 50, who lives in Clonroche, Co Wexford, says she spent all her life savings paying for €16,000 disability adapted furniture – and now she cannot afford to pay for her funeral – estimated to cost €7,000.
The former nun and Harley Street nurse was so desperate to pay off her debt and plan her own funeral, she posted a plea for donations from the public on her Facebook page.
But the Multiple Sclerosis sufferer was verbally attacked by a woman whose identity she has decided to keep anonymous.
“She wrote me a message saying ‘You’re going to die soon, what do you need money for?’
“She said ‘We heard you were going to die at 46 and you’re still alive at 50. By the time you’re 60, you’ll still be alive, so can’t you get your act together and get a job?’ I was in shock. It was so cruel.
“This comment really hurt me because I know this woman was close to someone who died suffering MS.
“It got me down. I can’t cope with that type of comment. She was at my 50th birthday party.
“I said maybe she would like to come to Dublin to my next medical appointment and hear the doctors decide when my time is near.
“All I want is to pay off the furniture and organise my own funeral, to choose my own coffin. I want to be buried with mammy and daddy in Waterford.”
Kate is originally from Lismore in Co Waterford, but she moved to England as a young woman, where she served as a nun in Liverpool from 1986 to 1999.
She then went on to become a nurse at Harley Street in London, before becoming a palliative care nurse, looking after the dying.
She is paying €35 a week to repay furniture debt from a €193-a-week disability benefit but she has a long way to go before the debt is settled and no hope of paying for her funeral if she does not raise funds.
Since going public, she has also been harassed by healers telling her they can help heal her condition.
And one woman – saying she was trying to help Kate – phoned her saying ‘Call the Samaritans,’ because she had told how she wanted the right to die on local radio.
“She must have thought I was going to take my life there and then and phoned back an hour later to check had I called the Samaritans.
“I explained as best I could to her. I do want to die. I would legally like the right to die. I would not allow anyone to help me take my life because I wouldn’t want anyone to be charged by the gardai.
“I would like the battle that Marie Fleming started to finish with me. To see the law is changed for people like me, that do not wish to live in pain, merely waiting to die.”
Kate has lost a great deal of her motor skills, uses a wheelchair when she goes out, and her speech is failing. She has carers to assist her and a speech therapist visits to help with conversation.
But the muscles in her body are wasting away and she finds the condition difficult to bear, especially after caring for others who suffered with MS.
Kate was diagnosed with MS just over three years ago and her condition is worsening by the day.
She is clear in the belief that it is her right to choose when to die. “The illness is getting worse and I’m losing all positivity,” she said.
“The physical constraints wear me down enormously. I can’t bend below my waist.”
“I want the right to die and whenever we get a new government. It’s something I believe should be back on the agenda.”
Kate was encouraged last year by Independent TD John Halligan and his vow to bring a bill decriminalising assisted suicide before the Dail. Kate is firmly behind the drive and believes that all people have the right to die with dignity.
“That is what it’s all about,” said Kate. “Dying with dignity should be a human right. It might have to go to the polls, but we must have the conversation.
“It is hard to challenge beliefs. We still believe in this country that only God has the right to decide our fate, regardless of how much a person is suffering. That hasn’t changed.”
If you want to help Kate, donate to Kate Tobin’s bank with details below.
Ulster Bank Enniscorthy branch: Account number: 10518576, Sort Code: 98 56 90, IBAN: IE63ULSB985689016576, BIC: ULSBIE2DXX