Terminally ill British woman ends life by euthanasia on New Zealand beach

Tracy Hickman, who died by the sea 'in the sunshine' on Wednesday in New Zealand
Tracy Hickman, 57, died by the sea 'in the sunshine' on Wednesday in New Zealand - Facebook

A terminally ill British woman ended her life by euthanasia on New Zealand beach on a beach in New Zealand, according to a friend.

Tracy Hickman, 57, died by the sea “in the sunshine” on Wednesday, after being diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2019.

The accountant, who had lived in New Zealand for two decades, had called for the British Government to give terminally ill people the option to end their lives.

Ms Hickman, who planned to end her life on May 22, wanted to do so on a beach surrounded by friends and family.

Two weeks ago, she told Dom Harvey, a New Zealand broadcaster: “I will hopefully have some chocolate for breakfast because I’m a real chocoholic, and then I’m going to go to a beach with the people I really love... and listen to the waves, see the sea, and put the rest of the medicine in.”

Her actions would provide “‘such huge relief [to] do it in that way”, she said, adding: “I feel privileged. In the last few months, I’ve said goodbye to so many people – how many people get a chance to do that when they pass away? Just feeling very fortunate to be in the position I’m in.”

In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Mr Harvey wrote: “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.”

Assisted dying was legalised in New Zealand in 2019 for terminally ill adults with less than six months to live.

Ms Hickman had been campaigning for similar legislation in the UK, where helping someone end their life can be punished with up to 14 years in prison.

In a message to British politicians, Ms Hickman 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.”

She was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram screening, but despite surgery and chemotherapy, an MRI in November 2022 revealed two tumours.

A subsequent PET scan found more tumours had spread to her lungs, chest wall, lymph nodes and spine.

In March last year, doctors discovered dozens of tumours in her brain and said she probably had only three months to live.

Tracy Hickman with her partner, Paul Qualtrough
Paul Qualtrough, Ms Hickman's partner, paid tribute to her on Instagram - Facebook

Before her death, Ms Hickman said: “The closer it gets, the more peaceful I feel. I’m so sorry for causing distress to my family [but] the alternative is to live for another couple of months [and] have an uncertain and painful death.”

Paul Qualtrough, Ms Hickman’s partner, replied to the podcast post on Instagram: “Thanks for your handling of this story. It has been sensitive, and the family really appreciated how you brought it to people’s attention in a way that allowed her to raise the awareness she wanted without sensationalising it nor seeking attention.

“Thank you so much for turning the simple legacy she sought for her young great nieces and others into something really special.

This week, Rebecca Wilcox, the daughter of Dame Esther Rantzen, said that she is considering breaking the law to aid her mother’s wish of assisted dying.

The 83-year-old, who fronted the BBC show That’s Life!, is one of the leading advocates for assisted suicide in the UK after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January last year.

In December, Dame Esther revealed that she had signed up for Dignitas, the assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland.

Ms Wilcox has since suggested that she would break the law to travel to the clinic with her mother so that she does not attend alone.