Update: the California End of Life Options Act passed in 2016.
Lisa Tuscher is an IT project manager in Novato, California.
After my 83-year old mother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer in December 2014, she decided to forgo treatment and live the rest of her life to the fullest. Gladie also shared with her doctor and with us, her family, her wish to end her life when the time came. She clearly wanted to have control over how she died. Hospice staff informed us that if we left the medications she wanted within her reach, we could be accused of criminal neglect.
Gladie spent the last two months of her life dying a humiliating death of starvation and dehydration. Whenever she was lucid, she’d tell us she was trying to die. She didn’t want to put us through this experience. We just held her hand and hoped the medications would ease her pain.
After Gladie died, on June 15th, I made a promise: That I would make sure no one else in California would have to suffer like her. Everyone with a terminal disease should have the option, should they choose it, to end their lives on their own terms. There is freedom in knowing you have the choice in how you die.