I work as a teenage volunteer on the cancer ward of my local hospital. When I first started there, I was pro-euthanasia. However, since then I have witnessed the truly amazing effect of palliative care and have completely changed my mind [on the subject of euthanasia].

The real underlying problem [in this debate] is the fact that palliative care is relatively scarce and (more often than not) is not made available to everyone who needs it. Instead, patients - especially the most elderly who have no relatives - are often left alone and terrified, in pain and with very little support. Occasionally, I see patients ignored by staff - they are dismissed as being 'confused' and not enough effort seems to be made to control their pain. No wonder they feel a burden on staff and society and start wishing for death!

If more efforts were made to bring a good standard palliative care to all who need it, I truly think that euthanasia would lose its attraction. At the moment, people consider opting to bring death to them before it does so naturally...because they are afraid. It's a sort of 'Let's get it over with' mentality.

But why is death viewed with so much fear? As a child, I was forbidden to visit an elderly relative dying of cancer. My family feared that I would be too shocked. In fact though, stopping me from visiting had quite the opposite effect. It made death appear like something to be hushed up and ignored, something so terrible that it had the power to stop me visiting someone I was so close to...I didn't have a chance to say good bye.

Death is not terrible. It is natural. It is our farewell to this world and, like every other stage of life, I believe it can and should be enjoyed.

What could be more brutal and heart rending than killing someone? What could be more painful than to know that a loved one felt their life so worthless that they decided to give up?

I hope to become a doctor and, if I succeed in doing so, I hope to be able to do my bit [to oppose euthanasia].

Care Not Killing comments: our office received this personal opinion by email in the aftermath of the defeated Joffe Bill. Certain details of this account have been altered in order to protect the identity of the author and relative. Do you have a story to tell? Email it in to intern@carenotkilling.org.uk and we would be pleased to consider publishing it.