FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – After sharing his story earlier this month, Eric Coulam says he’s received an overwhelming outpouring of messages from residents; however, not all have been in support of his decision.

After a long battle with an undiagnosed gastrointestinal medical condition, Coulam has made the decision at 20-years-old to opt for medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

Coulam says that while many messages he’s gotten have been supportive, a few don’t seem to understand his decision or the situation that has led up to it.

“There are people that say things like: ‘have you tried this? Before you go, please let me speak with you. Is there anything my family could do?’ How do you answer that? It’s frustrating,” Coulam said.

After multiple residents made posts and comments on Coulam’s Facebook group questioning his decision and recommending he try “other options,” Coulam’s friend and admin of the group, Brittany Yawney, made a post in response.

“In the end, Eric knows best, it’s his life and his body, and we all need to respect the decision he’s made because NONE of us know how much he has gone through,” the post reads.

Coulam says his battle started shortly after losing his mother to suicide in 2013. He says he would get incredibly nauseous eating certain foods one day but be unaffected by those same foods on other days.

Coulam consulted a doctor who decided to investigate his intestine and stomach with a scope.

“Nothing was moving through me. I kept eating, and eating and [my stomach] just ruptured because it wasn’t going anywhere.”

Coulam says the rupture caused septic fluid usually contained within the intestine to enter his bloodstream, causing him to “go septic” and enter into a coma for about two weeks.

Since then, Coulam has been in hospitals throughout B.C. and Alberta, battling pancreatitis and liver and kidney disease. He’s lost his small bowel and suffers from severe chronic pain.

Coulam held his celebration of life fire on May 21st, which saw many of Eric’s friends and family turn out to visit, share memories, and show support.

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.