Parkville's Angela Power wants the NSW parliament to pass a bill legalising voluntary assisted dying

Parkville resident, Angela Power says she never planned to become an advocate for voluntary assisted dying legislation, but after being by her father's side as he struggled with lung cancer towards the end of his life, she felt compelled to speak out.

Her father, Ray Philpott, was a respected funeral director in Scone from 1981 and prior to that, in Parkes.

Ms Power said he was a quiet man who was passionate about helping loved ones of the deceased and he was humbled by the trust placed in him by his community.

FAMILY: Ray Philpott with his daughter Angela Power after returning from his first week of radiotherapy. Supplied: Angela Power

FAMILY: Ray Philpott with his daughter Angela Power after returning from his first week of radiotherapy. Supplied: Angela Power

In October 2018, Ray was diagnosed with lung cancer and while radiotherapy initially helped, the disease returned and spread leaving chemotherapy as his only option for further treatment.

"After much discussion, dad decided he didn't want to undergo any further treatment," Ms Power said.

"His outlook was maybe 12 months with treatment or six months without it."

After Christmas 2018, as Ray's pain levels heightened, the family worked with GPs and palliative care teams on "the never ending cycle of medication" to try to keep him as pain free as possible.

FAMILY MAN: Ray Philpott a few months before he passed away from cancer in 2019. Supplied: Angela Power

FAMILY MAN: Ray Philpott a few months before he passed away from cancer in 2019. Supplied: Angela Power

Ms Power said the family spent most nights by Ray's bedside, setting up a roster so there would always be somebody by his side.

"During this time, he had a particularly painful episode where he begged me to help him to take his life as he didn't want to suffer anymore," she said.

"He asked both my husband and brother at different times to help kill him, one of the most awful things to go through.

"How could we watch a man who was once so strong and so loving fade away to a bag of bones and in constant agony?"

Penny Hackett, the NSW President of Dying with Dignity, said it was an all too common situation for families in the state, the last in Australia yet to legislate for voluntary assisted dying.

"Unfortunately, the current COVID outbreak has already delayed progress of the NSW VAD (voluntary assisted dying) Bill because NSW Parliament wasn't able to sit in August or September but as soon as NSW Parliament resumes, we expect MPs to listen to their communities and debate the Bill," Ms Hackett said.

STATEWIDE CAMPAIGN: Illawarra Dying with Dignity supporters Richard Martin and Liz Jacka asking people to sign a petition in support of assisted dying law reform. Picture: Anna Warr

STATEWIDE CAMPAIGN: Illawarra Dying with Dignity supporters Richard Martin and Liz Jacka asking people to sign a petition in support of assisted dying law reform. Picture: Anna Warr

"COVID-19 has stopped a lot of things, but it hasn't stopped people being diagnosed with terminal illnesses or experiencing intolerable pain and suffering from that illness so it hasn't stopped the need for NSW to provide the same compassionate and dignified end-of-life choices as other states."

Ms Power's family managed to care for Ray at home for about 10 weeks before finally having to admit Ray to hospital, where the decision was made with doctors to begin end of life care.

"We stressed to all that Dad had had enough," Ms Power said.

"Enough of the constant pain, enough of his son and daughter showering and dressing him, enough of his children holding the bottle for him to urinate in.

"Enough of the drugs in his system, that he didn't know where he was or what he was doing."

Ray Philpott "slipped away peacefully without suffering or struggling" on Easter Monday in 2019, but Ms Power acknowledges not everyone is so 'lucky'.

"If Dad had the option, I know he would have wanted to end his life on his terms without the suffering that he experienced," Ms Power said.

"I cannot speak highly enough of the care we received from the palliative care nurses but ultimately it wasn't enough to treat the pain."

Ms Power will be keeping a close eye on NSW parliament this week as independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich introduces a bill to allow for voluntary assisted dying to be legalised in the state.

The bill has been co-sponsored by a record 28 MPs, but as a constituent of Nationals member for the Upper Hunter Dave Layzell, Ms Power said she was still unsure how her representative would vote when the time came.

CONFLICTED: Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell is still determining how he will vote on voluntary assisted dying legislation being introduced to NSW parliament. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

CONFLICTED: Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell is still determining how he will vote on voluntary assisted dying legislation being introduced to NSW parliament. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

Mr Layzell said he was still canvassing people in his electorate for their opinions on the issue.

"I haven't fixed my position on it yet," Mr Layzell said.

"I understand the public support for the issue. However, I do admit that I am feeling conflicted by the proposal."

Ms Power said she hoped MPs would listen to the views of their community as they weighed up their vote on the legislation.

"I think MPs really need to think about the people in their local area that do support it rather than their own personal views," she said.

With legislation being introduced into NSW parliament today, Ms Hackett said she was hopeful the changes would pass after a similar proposal was voted down in 2017.

"Every day that the NSW Parliament doesn't pass this important legislation, terminally ill people will continue to suffer unbearably at the end of their life," Ms Hackett said.