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Vanessa Feltz fights back tears as Dame Esther Rantzen’s daughter gives devastating update about her mother’s cancer battle and plans for Dignitas

Vanessa Feltz fought back tears as Dame Esther Rantzen’s daughter Rebecca Wilcox gave a heartbreaking update on her mother’s battle with cancer.

The Childline founder, 83, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year and has since revealed she has joined assisted dying clinic Dignitas in Switzerland.

Dame Esther has joined campaigners’ calls for a change to Britain’s assisted dying law, leading a chorus of dismay after a long-awaited report by MPs on assisted dying produced no clear findings or proposals.

Rebecca, 44, appeared on Vanessa’s Talk TV program on Thursday and said her mother’s “ideal death” would be surrounded by her loved ones, but due to British law she cannot be accompanied to Switzerland by her family.

Under the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, assisting suicide is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. There is no specific crime in Scotland.

Vanessa Feltz fought back tears as Dame Esther Rantzen’s daughter Rebecca Wilcox gave a heartbreaking update on her mother’s battle with cancer

The Childline founder, 83, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year and has since revealed she has joined assisted dying clinic Dignitas in Switzerland

The Childline founder, 83, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year and has since revealed she has joined assisted dying clinic Dignitas in Switzerland

Rebecca said, “Vanessa, this is impossible. I was fine with every other interview, but because it’s you and you’re a family friend, I find it hard to put it into words.

“It’s the question you can’t answer, as you know: ‘How is she?’ as anyone who has had cancer knows. You are only as good as your last scan and at this point the miracle drug she is using is working and is a tenacious drug.

‘The report was clearly very thorough and sympathetic to everyone’s cause and appealed to a very wide range of society, for people who have experienced it and whose loved ones have done it, doctors, countries where it works and the interesting thing I take away is where people worry that palliative care will deteriorate and that we will introduce euthanasia for those who simply do not want to continue living.

“We’re not talking about mental health care. We’re talking about a physical illness with a terminal diagnosis that would end your life in about six months.

‘It’s about saving people from a painful, undignified death.

‘My mother’s ideal death, my ideal death that I imagine, that I share with many people, would be to lie in bed, surrounded by my loved ones.

“Have a very soft cocktail of whatever it may be, and I know I’m simply (saying) buying the medicine here, but then dozing off softly as I hold their hands. Who wouldn’t hold that?

“Who would want to potentially spend months in writhing pain instead? How is it human and progressive to think that we protect people by not allowing them a painless, dignified death?’

Vanessa told viewers she found it 'painful' to talk about Esther's battle with cancer because she is so close to the family

Vanessa told viewers she found it ‘painful’ to talk about Esther’s battle with cancer because she is so close to the family

Rebecca, 44, said her mother's 'ideal death' would be surrounded by her loved ones, but due to British law she cannot be accompanied to Switzerland by her family

Rebecca, 44, said her mother’s ‘ideal death’ would be surrounded by her loved ones, but due to British law she cannot be accompanied to Switzerland by her family

Vanessa has been friends with Dame Esther and the family for years (pictured in 2015 at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show)

Vanessa has been friends with Dame Esther and the family for years (pictured at the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show)

Vanessa, who told viewers she was a good friend of Esther, said before wiping away tears: “Rebecca, thank you so much, and give mommy all my love and a big kiss from me, please.”

The inquiry, carried out by the Health and Social Care Committee, was designed to ‘provide a basis for discussion’ about whether the law should be changed.

But the committee stopped short of calling for a debate in the House of Commons, which would allow MPs to air their disagreements on existing legislation before voting.

Instead, it was recommended that the government consider how to respond if steps are taken to enshrine assisted dying into law in parts of Britain.

Although it is currently illegal here, several dependent territories – including Jersey and the Isle of Man – have taken steps to legalize it.

Dame Esther said: ‘Many of us feel it is time for this country to catch up with best practice abroad, and the only way to achieve that is a good debate in Parliament with a free vote at the end of it.

‘I am deeply disappointed that this report – which many of us have been waiting for – does not make that recommendation.

Esther previously revealed she didn't expect to spend this Christmas with her family after being diagnosed with cancer, but a 'miracle drug' had given her extra time

Esther previously revealed she didn’t expect to spend this Christmas with her family after being diagnosed with cancer, but a ‘miracle drug’ had given her extra time

‘I’m afraid it was a missed opportunity in many ways. If they had said ‘we urgently need a parliamentary debate and a free vote’ that might have fit into my own timetable, but that is not the case.’

Esther previously revealed she didn’t expect to spend this Christmas with her family after being diagnosed with cancer, but a ‘miracle drug’ had given her extra time with her loved ones.

She previously said she fears she could be charged with murder if she helps her seriously ill mother travel to Dignitas.

However, Dame Esther admitted that such a decision would put her family and friends in a difficult position as they could face prosecution if they decided to join her.

Rebecca told TalkTV: ‘It’s impossible, isn’t it, because I can’t even say to you, I would support my mother on her journey to Dignitas, because if I said that, it would be legally unclear.

‘In my head I obviously thought I would never let her go to a place like that alone, but I’m a busy working mother. I can’t let my kids go to jail while she flies to Switzerland.

‘The fact is that only three people are prosecuted every year. But the actual process of going through a lawsuit in what is the worst time of my life so far.

“You know, mom is my person. I don’t want to live without her. “I’m going to have to live without her and please don’t make things worse for me by accusing me of killing her and putting me through a terrifying legal process.”