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Stories Stories Lifestyle "I've been dying to post this": Terminally ill dad-of-three's final Facebook message before ending his life at Dignitas

"I've been dying to post this": Terminally ill dad-of-three's final Facebook message before ending his life at Dignitas

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Written by jonathan     May 04, 2017    
 
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A terminally ill dad-of-three wrote a final Facebook message before ending his life at Dignitas, saying: "I've been 'dying' to post this".

Ex-soldier David Nigel Casson went to the assisted dying clinic in Switzerland last week after a 10-year battle with motor neurone disease (MND).

The brave 62-year-old - who reportedly once arrested IRA commander Martin McGuinness - wrote an emotional last message before he ended his life.

In the parting post, added to his public Facebook profile last Tuesday by his wife of nearly 40 years, Julie Casson, he explained his difficult decision to die.

He also showed his keen sense of humour.

However, he never got to see the more than 400 responses to his farewell post because he didn't want to spend his final few hours "glued to Facebook".

In the message, Mr Casson, known as Nigel, said: "It gives me great joy, today, to announce that I have found the one and only cure for MNd, but it is with great sadness that it means I have had to go to Dignitas in Zurich to end my life.

"I would like to thank all my Facebook friends for their support and friendship since I joined in 2008, one year into this cruel illness. You have been a tremendous support to me throughout the ten years of this illness. It is such a shame that the laws of this country prevent me from doing this in my own home.

Wicked disease

"My decision was arrived at because I wanted to take back control of my life and take the victory of killing me away from this disease. I wanted to die while I am happy and can still smile and not be controlled by this wicked disease any longer.

"I wanted to die with dignity instead of being tortured.

"Some people may think it's the easy way out but believe me it's not easy to leave your loving family and friends.

"I've been "dying" to post this!! Ha ha ha ha ha!! Thank you and goodbye. Xxx"

Mr Casson, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, previously served in the British Army as an infantryman in the Duke of Wellington's regiment during the 1970s.

He also served in Northern Ireland during the turbulent years fighting the IRA.

Mrs Casson claims her husband even once arrested Irish republican and Sinn Fein politician Mr McGuinness in Belfast.

Mr Casson left the army due to family commitments after a three-year stint.

He went on to become a scaffolder.

He was diagnosed with MND in 2007 and told he had three to five years to live - although he went on to live for much longer.

He decided to end his life at the clinic because he didn't want to "feel tombed within his own body", according to his doting wife.

Significantly weaker

Mrs Casson said: "He talked about it right at the beginning when he was first diagnosed but then put it to the back of his mind.

"But he did say that when the time was right that he would pursue it.

"Last August when he decided he was going to pursue it he felt himself becoming significantly weaker.

"He was having days where he was becoming dispirited. He was conscious if he didn't go while he physically could he would miss an opportunity.

"He didn't want to get to a stage where he was unable to speak or unable to communicate his feelings and frustrations, and feel tombed within his own body."

Mr Casson had been battling the debilitating degenerative disease for a decade when he ended his life at Dignitas.

He had made the decision to go to the clinic last August.

"By the end he needed help with everything," added Mrs Casson.

"We had a team of carers giving him round the clock care. He relied on a wheelchair for the last seven years.

"His limbs were becoming extremely weak, he needed help with everything such as feeding, personal care showering and going to the toilet.

Eye gaze technology

"He was completely disabled but managed to keep his spirit.

"Because of his immobility and disability he found comfort in using Facebook, it kept him in touch with the world.

"He could still manage to touch the screen but also had eye gaze technology to help him."

Mr Casson travelled across to Dignitas by car, accompanied by his devoted wife and three children.

Motor neurone disease sees victims' muscles deteriorate until they can't move, speak, eat or breathe.

About 50 per cent of people diagnosed with the condition die within 14 months.

Very few survive beyond five years.

"Nigel was a very realistic man and did not moan about his fate," Mrs Casson said.

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