I first heard of Mark Pickup, 10 years ago when we were working on Turning the Tide. At the time, it was not possible to interview Mark for the documentary. He would have been a great addition to the film.
Mark was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 30. He is one of Canada’s most out-spoken disability-rights advocates against euthanasia and assisted suicide.
But Mark was not always this way. In his personal blog, Human Life Matters he writes about how angry he was when he lost his health:
“Fear overcame me about what lay in store for me. I knew multiple sclerosis is a serious disease that often has a catastrophic impact of the lives of people it strikes. I knew people with MS: often their lives were torn apart as their marriages crumbled, careers shattered, and they were abandoned to a living hell.
“Multiple sclerosis devastated my life. It stripped away my health, layer by layer, like pealing an onion, and eventually left me triplegic and in an electric wheelchair.
“Looking back over more than twenty years of increasingly profound and crippling disability I must say that I have become one of those people I wrote about who lives with a sick and twisted body. Yes, there were times when my heart broke – along with the hearts of those loved me. There were times throughout the years when it was me (not someone else) who was on the verge of despair. Protracted suffering seemed to isolate me in sorrow – just as my wife’s sorrow seemed to isolate her. At other times we lived two solitudes rooted in the same overwhelming and inexpressible sorrow.”
He is a perfect candidate for Canada’s new Medically Assisted Dying Bill.
That is why when we were in Edmonton recently for the Every Life Matters series with Archbishop Richard Smith and I knew that Mark was one of the speakers, I asked if we could meet to speak further. He agreed and we spoke about his disease, about suffering, quality of life, disabilities, conscience rights and much more.
My conversation with Mark Pickup will air on Catholic Focus tomorrow, Wednesday, May 18 after Perspectives Daily, at 7:05pm ET (5:05pm MT). It repeats at 11:05pm (8:05pm MT).
I hope you can join us for this special Catholic Focus on end of life issues.
This mini series on end-of-life issues began last week with a conversation with lawyer Kate Faught, who explains how our legal landscape is changing, and will continue for the next three Wednesdays:
May 25: What Does The Church Say? with Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton.
June 1: Ending the Pain, with Lisa Daniels who suffers debilitating, chronic pain, and her doctor, Robert Hauptman.
June 8: Quality of Life, with Jeri and Chuck Marple, parents of Mary who has cerebral palsy.