Melissa Wood is natural health professional in San Antonio, Texas.

I support Death with Dignity because of my experience dealing with the deaths of my parents. I was 23 in 1988 when my mom was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer and my father with Alzheimer’s. After he became too ill to live at home, we moved him to a nursing facility, and my mom came to live with me. I took care of her during the last year of her life. It was horrific. None of her treatments worked or helped, they only prolonged the inevitable. Her suffering was awful and unimaginable.

When I was diagnosed with Stage III cervical cancer a year later, I swore I would never go through what my mom did. I underwent a surgery but refused both chemotherapy and radiation, even though doctors said I would die without them. I chose instead the path of wellness and nutritional therapy and didn’t have to die the way my mom, or my dad a few years later, did. Five years later, doctors told me I was cured.

Everybody is going to die, whether it’s by accident, due to an injury, or from an illness. I’m okay with the accident and injury, but I refuse to suffer a life filled with suffering from a drawn-out illness. I want to be able to control my ending.

I want to have legislation passed in Texas so that I can control my own death. Unfortunately, this is a conservative, religious state that does not allow me to do that. I believe that, if I am terminally ill, no religion or person should dictate when it’s my time to go. I should be able to decide when I can die in a humane and peaceful, not a violent, way.