Yes, on behalf of loved ones lost to cancer and what is inevitably still to come from the number one killer worldwide, I want to fight, beat, and destroy cancer. The thought of it sickens me. But until the day when we end this pandemic and other terminal illnesses, a debate over euthanasia/ assisted suicide needs to continue.
Cards on the table.
If you want to fight for your life till the last breath, regardless of the odds, pain, and suffering that you or loved ones watching you may experience; I won’t argue against that. It is your life, it’s your choice, and I honor and respect it.
If you want a measure of control over the timing of your passing, to not fight what appears to be insurmountable odds, to avoid the pain and suffering that you and loved ones would go through, I won’t argue against that. It is your life, it’s your choice, and I honor and respect it.
Truth is I have been an advocate of euthanasia/assisted suicide for as long as I can remember. Long before I witnessed my grandmother die of a long drawn out bout with Alzheimers, and then my mother to cancer. (For the difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide, click here) Faced with a similar situation and a beyond reasonable doubt point of no return, I would do what I could to end my life on my terms.
It’s that point of no return that gives me pause and inspired me to write this blog. I was reading this powerful article about Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with terminal cancer who has chosen to end her life via assisted suicide.
As her life winds down, I find her advocacy for others and their right to assisted suicide courageous and inspirational. (If you would like to sign an e-card showing support for Brittany’s decision you can do so here.)
My hesitation or caveat when it comes to euthanasia comes from the deciding point of when to let go, and in particular, not resigning too soon. I am in no way meaning to imply that Maynard is doing so, however my concern is how others may construe the headline of the message. Specifically, while I am an advocate in favor or euthanasia/assisted suicide, I wouldn’t want to see people ending things when they may have had more good time than they thought.
You see Mrs. Maynard was initially given a diagnosis of 10 years to live, but then that drastically changed to 6 months. One repeated theme in many of my blogs is that we as a society turn over too much trust to doctors. They are fallible. They can be wrong. People who are told they are terminal turn out not to be. People who are told they have a small amount of time left, live for years before passing. And, sadly there are many times people have less time than doctors predict.
Life prognostication is not an exact science. Grace Silva had been given five months to live. She had thyroid cancer that spread to her lungs. Four years later, Grace has gracefully proved that wrong. What if she left us too soon?
While I would like to see assisted suicide legal in all 50 states (instead of just 5), I would encourage anyone thinking about assisted suicide to hold out as long they reasonably can, and of course get multiple opinions on their condition.
In other words, if I am going to err, I would rather it be living one day too long verses going out one day too soon. One decision is reversible. The other is not. “Pull the plug” to soon and I might not wake up the next day to find out that indeed my doctor is wrong and I have far more time left before deterioration and death. Pull the plug one day to late and I experience one day of suffering that I would have chosen not to. One day versus perhaps days, weeks, months or years.
I’m not trying to judge or tell anyone what to do. From a legal and moral perspective, so long as a person is deemed of sound mind, I believe the choice should be theirs. But I can’t think of a more important decision to think through, know all of your options, and to be sure of what you want to do, and the timing with which you want to do it.
My best wishes to the Maynard family and anyone faced with this most challenging circumstance.
Love and respect to all whatever you decide.
You can watch and listen to Brittany in her own words by clicking here.
Material placed on this Web site by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is for the purpose of providing information only. It is not intended as the practice of medicine or the provision of medical services. This site does not provide medical or mental health advice. Coming Together To Fight Cancer makes no representation, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the information. The content provided by Coming Together To Fight Cancer is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your provider or other healthcare professional with any question regarding any medical or mental health condition.
The Coming Together To Fight Cancer website provides links to other non-Coming Together To Fight Cancer sites. Coming Together To Fight Cancer has no control over these sites and makes no representations whatsoever about the accuracy of the information they contain. The fact that Coming Together To Fight Cancer links to another site does not mean that Coming Together To Fight Cancer endorses or accepts any responsibility for the content of that site. If you choose to access any site for which Coming Together To Fight Cancer provides a link, you do so at your own risk.