A son is continuing his family's fight to legalise assisted dying after seeing his father and sister die "painful" deaths.

Matt Minns, from Mildenhall, lost both his sister, Katie, and his father, David, to cancer over the last few years.

David had been a vocal supporter of a change in the law to allow for assisted dying after he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer.

He was in communication with West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock over the matter - with the former Health Secretary recently telling the House of Commons he would be in favour of a law change.

East Anglian Daily Times: Matt Hancock with David Minns before his deathMatt Hancock with David Minns before his death (Image: Office of Matt Hancock/James Davies)

Assisted dying is a controversial topic and it has a number of opponents. 

Those opposed to the procedure, which is illegal in the UK, argue it can be exploited and believe more resource should be invested into improving palliative care services.

There is also an argument that assisted dying weakens society's respect for the sanctity of life.

Mr Minns said he was continuing his father’s work with campaign group Dignity in Dying.

He said: “We’re not talking about ending life. We’re talking about shortening your death and the right to choose when that moment comes. It is the compassionate thing to do and it should be every person’s right to choose when to die with dignity.”

David was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2020 and also developed a rare, organ damaging condition called amyloidosis.

David’s daughter and Matt’s sister, Katie, had discovered her cancer had returned just months earlier.

East Anglian Daily Times:

Matt said: “My dad had to watch my sister die a very painful death in 2021.

"He knew that his own death might also be painful but when my sister unfortunately did die quite a nasty death, he realised the importance of having the right to choose both for himself and thinking my sister could have had a better death.”

David became involved in a campaign for the legalisation of assisted dying, speaking at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Choice and lobbying for change.

“Dad fought really hard to live the best life he could in the circumstances he was put in and Katie was the same,” Matt said.

“He passed out when he coughed; he couldn’t stand up without passing out sometimes. Previously he had been an unbelievably fit person – running a marathon in two-and-a-half-hours.

“He had done so well to reform a life and become a different type of person who had to be sedentary, but find joy and purpose in that.

East Anglian Daily Times: Matt's father David Minns died with cancerMatt's father David Minns died with cancer (Image: David Minns)

“But through all that, he lived in fear of how that end would come.

"Particularly with the type of cancer that dad had, doctors said that the best case would be that he had a heart attack. That unfortunately didn’t happen and he died quite a painful death at the end.

“We were begging for more pain relief and the district nurses were doing everything they could with what they were given but, in the end, we had to beg for more pain relief he was in so much pain. It was so sad to see him have to live out the fear he had.”

More than 200,000 people have signed a petition spearheaded by journalist Dame Esther Rantzen in support of assisted dying.

For Matt, the suffering he saw his sister and father go through means legalising assisted dying is crucial.

He said: “My dad coped in a very inspiring way but in those last weeks, he wasn’t himself anymore.

"To see everything taken away from him where he couldn’t even sit or lay comfortably was so sad to see.

“Having seen what my dad and my sister went through, I don’t want to go through it myself or see anyone else go through this.

"There’s an urgent need for change. Whatever suffering my family has been through I hope it helps move things forward to creating a kinder world.”