Search icon


22nd May 2024

British woman dies by euthanasia after sharing heartbreaking final post

Ryan Price

The 57-year-old is calling for the practice to be legalised in the UK.

A British woman with terminal breast cancer is set to be euthanized in New Zealand next week to avoid ‘uncertain and painful death’.

Tracy Hickman, who has dual British and New Zealand nationality, made the decision to end her life today under New Zealand laws that allow competent adults to choose an assisted death if they have both a terminal illness and six months to live.

In the lead up to her death, Hickman called on the UK government to give seriously ill people like her in Britain the choice to decide how their life can end.

She said: “Look at what New Zealand has done, and do it even better. There is a lot of focus on the right to life, but people should have the right to a peaceful, gentle death.”

As of 2024, euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, all six states of Australia.

In 2021, a Peruvian court allowed euthanasia for a single person, Ana Estrada. Eligibility for euthanasia varies across jurisdictions where it is legal, with some countries allowing euthanasia for mental illness.

New Zealand’s assisted dying law came into effect in 2021 during the premiership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, after two-thirds of voters supported it in a national referendum a year earlier.

Currently, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, assisted suicide is banned with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

There’s no specific offence for it in Scotland, but euthanasia is illegal and can be prosecuted as murder or manslaughter.

Hickman hopes her openness about her choice of an assisted death will raise awareness and prompt conversations about the quality of life and the end of life.

“For me, just existing isn’t enough,” she said. “I’m not the person I was, I can’t live the life I want to. I feel very fortunate that I can be in control, that I can choose this.”

Broadcaster Dom Harvey – who had previously interviewed Tracy – shared the news, explaining on Facebook: “Tracy Hickman passed away peacefully today.

“She was on a beach in the sunshine, surrounded by her loved ones. It was exactly what she wanted.

“It was an honour being able to share her story.”

Linda Clarke – Tracy’s sister who still lives in the UK – echoed her sister’s call to UK politicians, adding: “If Tracy was still in the UK, I’d have to watch her go through a horrific death.”

Her partner, Paul Qualtrough, said: “No one wants to see her go, but no one wants to see her suffer. The comfort I get is knowing [her death] will be gentle and on Tracy’s terms. It’s the best of a bad set of shitty options.”

Tracy Hickman was an accountant and long distance runner who had lived in New Zealand for 20 years.

She was diagnosed in March 2019 after a routine mammogram and underwent chemotherapy. However, by February 2023, the cancer returned and spread, while further treatments led to more side effects, including serious pain.

Ms Hickman told The Guardian that at this stage, she was not eligible for an assisted death as doctors believed she had more than six months to live.

She said she even considered suicide by refusing to eat or drink.

Her prognosis changed in March this year when doctors discovered dozens of tumours in her brain and advised she probably only had three months to live.

Following her diagnosis, Ms Hickman applied for an assisted death through New Zealand’s simple process that includes an assessment from two doctors.

Since then, she has spent her time saying goodbye to her loved ones and doing a bit of ‘life admin’.

Earlier this morning, Tracy was joined by a small group of people including her partner and sister on a secluded beach.

A medical team were present to administer the drugs, and she lost consciousness within a few minutes while listening to the sound of the waves.

Related Links:

Woman shares devastating final post before being euthanised

Spain to legalise euthanasia from June in landmark ruling

‘Suicide pod’ approved for use in Switzerland is completely legal