A few weeks ago, I stated that if I found out I had a terminal illness I wouldn’t tell my kids. I don’t want them to put their lives on hold and suffer along with me. And a lot of you had a lot to say about that. Some agreed, and some disagreed. My children disagreed the most. But it didn’t change my mind. I’m not going to let them stop their lives to watch mine end.
A short time after that, the Brittany Maynard story was printed in People magazine.
In case you haven’t heard the story, the recap goes like this: Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had about 6 months to live, but chose to end her life early and with dignity by ingesting a concoction of drugs that were legally prescribed to her under Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act.
On November 1, 2014, Brittany ended her own life. She was 29 years old.
Here’s what I think.
A person with a brain tumor will suffer, and suffer greatly. They will mostly likely lose the ability to walk, talk, and use the bathroom by themselves. I’m no scientist, but it seems to me that if you’re dying of brain cancer, you’ll lose most of your quality of life. So you should get all the treatments you possibly can, even though there is zero chance that you will survive. Your lifespan may lengthen, but for what? So you can suffer more?
I see why Brittany did what she did. And I applaud her strength. She didn’t have to live her last days having strangers wipe her after she used the bathroom. She wasn’t unable to eat and she made sure she was able to tell people she loved them. She traveled. She bought gifts for her loved ones for the next year and wrapped them and put them away. She was able to do all that before the disease beat her. In her own way, she beat the disease. And how many people can say that?
I would hope that if I was in her situation, that I’d have the courage and strength to do the same. She had no chance of living. She was dying one way or another, and she took control and died on her terms. Not on cancer’s terms. She wanted to die with dignity and she did it.
A lot of people have a problem with the Death With Dignity Act. Here’s the sad truth – if you want to end your life badly enough, you will. Isn’t it more humane to give terminally ill patients a painless and effective way to do it?
I’m not saying that people should just be able to end their lives because their boyfriend broke up with them or something, because in cases like that, it does get better eventually, even though it feels like it never will. However, brain cancer never gets better. It only gets worse.
My opinion is that it should not be in the state’s hands whether or not a person has a right to die before enduring extreme emotional and physical suffering. In this case, I say good for Oregon, and good for Brittany. She left this Earth with dignity and she left a legacy.
May she rest in peace.