Karen Lynn is a retired social scientist in Zephyrhills, Florida.
My daughter Sabrina was 52 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic and liver cancer and was given months to live. She suffered a life of torture for seven months while hospitals seemed to want to keep her alive—for five years, they said—just to bill for services.
Doctors pumped Sabrina with pain medications but rather than helping, they paralyzed her and she spent the last three months of her life in bed, asking to die. No one ever explained or apologized for paralyzing her. It made no sense for her to go through what she did. She died a torturous death on Christmas Eve 2014.
I have always believed in physician-assisted dying. But since Sabrina’s death, I have studied practically everything that’s out there on the subject. Seventy percent of doctors would choose Death with Dignity for themselves; I am angry we don’t have that choice.
Here in Florida, the legislature is deathly against it. I believe it has a lot to do with how powerful the hospitals are here and how nepotistic our state is. But the experience with Sabrina just made me more determined.
Every person should have a choice if they want to get medical care or not, to extend their lives or not, when they’ve been diagnosed as terminal. I know people with pancreatic cancer who are going ahead with chemotherapy, and that’s fine. But that would not be my choice. I’d rather keep doing what I’m doing for as long as I can, and then take the medications. Death with dignity should be a choice everywhere.