Cancer battler from Oswaldtwistle took his own life after 'struggling with chemotherapy'

First published in News

A FATHER suffering from terminal lung cancer took his own life, an inquest heard.

Anthony McFarlane, 65, died at home in Central Avenue, Oswaldtwistle, on December 10 last year, after taking a deliberate over-dose of prescribed morphine the day before.

Mr McFarlane, known as Tony, had previously been told he had lung cancer, and his niece, Jennifer Margaret Barnes, told yesterday’s inquest in Blackburn that he was finding his chemotherapy treatment difficult.

He had been prescribed morphine in liquid and tablet form and, when a post mortem examination was carried out, he was found to have a blood morphine concentration of 422 micrograms per litre of blood.

Pathologist Dr Richard Prescott told the hearing a level as low as 50 micr-ograms could prove fatal in certain cases, whereas those who had developed a tolerance to the drug could take between 100 and 500 micr-ograms before it proved deadly, or even more in some cases. 

However, Dr Prescott said he believed the high concentration of morphine had led to Mr McFarlane’s death. Mr McFarlane’s niece said she visited her uncle’s home on December 9, and discovered several empty packets of morphine.

She said: “I noticed empty packs of tablets on the side. I went up and not-iced about four bottles of morphine and about two strips of morphine had all been emptied. He was still conscious and he said he was happy, pain-free, in a good place. He was where he wanted to be.”

Ms Barnes said she informed a nurse that Mr McFarlane had taken an overdose, but asked her not to reveal that she had done so, as Mr McFarlane had said he did not want medical attention.

The nurse called Mr McFarlane’s GP, Dr Gladstone Bello, who visited his home.

Mr McFarlane told his GP that he did not wish to be resuscitated, but wanted to die with dignity, so Dr Bello took note of his wishes and made him comfortable.

The inquest heard that Mr McFarlane had left a suicide note on the back of a photograph of himself and his son, which read: “Time for me to go, sorry, love Dad. P.S. Goodbye to all my pals, no crying.”

Coroner Michael Singleton ruled that Mr McFarlane had taken a deliberate overdose, with the intention of bringing about his own death, and recorded the medical cause of death as morphine toxicity.

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