On Paraolympian Marieke Vervoot

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The Paralympics have returned yet again after a long wait and Marieke Vervoot is among one of the many athletes ready to compete in the games in Rio de Janeiro. However, after Rio, she is considering euthanasia. She signed euthanasia papers in 2008, as the practice is still legal in Belgium.

Marieke Vervoort has a degenerative spinal disease that progressively worsens over time. According to DailyMail, her health condition is continuously deteriorating to the point where she gets as little as ten minutes of sleep. “I suffer greatly,” states the athlete. Her illness also causes her to faint frequently.

Vervoort contracted her rare illness back in 2000, but that has not stopped her from achieving athletic greatness. The 2015 World Champion took up wheelchair racing in 2008 and won gold and silver at London 2012 in the 100-meter and 200-meter wheelchair sprints.

“When I sit in my racing chair, everything disappears. I expel all the dark thoughts; I fight fear, sadness, suffering, and frustration. That’s how I won the gold medals,” Vervoort states to Duncan Wright of the Sun. She also states that Rio is her last wish.

Vervoort often documents her struggles with her illness in a journal, where she discusses from topics like the amount of sleep she gets to better days while fighting the disease. Although she has shown lots of happiness when it comes to competing and her overall experiences while competing, she sheds a light of what Paralympians go through.

“Everybody sees me laughing and happy with my medals. They don’t see the other part of me. I can have lots and lots of pain. I sleep sometimes for only 10 minutes.” She also goes into detail with how her funeral will play out: “My funeral, it’s not going to be in a church. It’s not going to be with coffee and some cake. I want everybody to have a glass of champagne and to say, ‘Cheers, Marieke.’ All the best. You had a good life. Now you are in a better place.”

Most people are unaware of the pain Paralympians suffer, especially if it involves an illness that brings on an unimaginable amount of suffering. However, that has not stopped Vervoort from achieving her dreams. Nonetheless, she’s achieved enough greatness for herself and has stated that the Rio games will be her last, but that does not mean she will go through with the euthanasia immediately after the Rio games are over. She hopes to achieve more and cross off items on her bucket list with whatever time she has left, as stated in telegraph.co.uk.

There are also many misconceptions concerning euthanasia, and Vervoort tackles them in the following statement: “I hope everybody sees that this is not murder, but it makes people live longer,” as shown on newsweek.com. Although Vervoort may be going through euthanasia at some point where her disease becomes unbearable, she frames it in a positive light, saying that there will be no more pain. She wants her loved ones to remember her for who she is as a person, not by her illness.

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Aneta Ostasz

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