To be or not to be: the mercy of doctor-assisted suicide


The day we are born we have choices, and day-by-day those choices begin to become clearer; one of those choices is to live or die freely. I know, it sounds horrid, and I’m assuming you’re asking yourself “Why would anyone want to die willingly?” Well, some choose it for the better, some look at it as a blessing in disguise, or even as an escape or a way out from all the sorrow and pain.

It’s not easy waking up every morning in constant discomfort and to never be at ease, just incessant pain—to have a vacant hope for something unobtainable, and forever wishing for the end to come as soon as possible. No one wants that. No one wants to die, but no one wants to live with this type of suffering. It’s like everyone asking for a revolution, but no one wants to do the dishes.

I don’t believe that God needs more angels, and I don’t believe that anyone deserves to be diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is one of the most horrific ways to die. It is a leach: once it’s there, it’s there, often with no chance of getting rid of it. It takes a one-in-a-million-miracle to cure. It is torturous and evil, and will suck every drop of life out of you.

I should know. My mother suffered five years of hell with cancer and still had the courage and strength to show me a smile when she woke up, because she knew she didn’t want her little girl to worry. She suffered and lived on with grace until the cancer took over, until all she was left with was a final breath and the thought of her children and resolute tears. No one wants to witness something–let alone live–like that. Life should be fulfilling and prosperous, not filled with pain and death.

29-year-old Brittany Maynard had been married for a year and was living a full, prosperous life when she was diagnosed with aggressive brain. Brittany was given six months to live, and while some of us might be destroyed by such news, she received it gracefully and maturely. She took matters into her own hands, deciding she was not going to let the disease determine when and how she would die.

Brittany moved to Oregon where it is legal to “Die with Dignity” through doctor-assisted suicide. She decided to end her own life painlessly on November 1st of 2014, surrounded by friend and family.  Brittany did not want her loved ones to watch her die a slow and painful death. The cancer was too far advanced and would have consumed her whole life.

The choice she made is a choice we should all have. What she didn’t expect was world-wide reaction. Her actions sparked so much media coverage and so much debate at home and internationally, that she decided to go public with her choice to raise awareness about the option of assisted suicide.

Last words are something cherished. To know when someone is going to die, so you can say goodbye, and have closure with that person and vica versa, must be an amazing feeling. I never got to have that kind of closure with my mother, but I’m glad Brittany’s family and friends said goodbye properly to her.

Brittany’s way of handling her ‘end’, so-to-speak, sounds a lot better than the alternative of prolonged suffering. I support her choice, 100%. She died with dignity, exactly how she wanted, and I have so much respect for this small town girl’s empowering decision.

For all the days, in memory of Brittany, Sandra, and Maddison.