My name is Aimee. I’m 40 years old, and I have the breast and ovarian cancer gene. At 35, my life changed dramatically: Cancer was no longer something that I knew other people had. It became something with the potential to end my life, or at the very least dramatically alter its course. And it did. Luckily I’m not facing death today, but that is only because I made the choice to have a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy, which I’m sure lengthened my body’s life. In typical “Aimee fashion,” I explored my options and made my decision. That was the best decision for me.
At 40, I doubt my attitudes about personal autonomy and decision-making will change; in fact, I’m more passionate than ever about opening pathways for patient choice. Because when faced with the most difficult medical decision of my life, I knew it was my choice to make. I’m so thankful that I had medical providers who understood that. And, I’m so grateful that I have been surrounded by people who were willing to listen, support my decisions and see me through. To those folks, I say thank you. I look forward to returning that favor of unadulterated respect for personal autonomy.
On April 16, we celebrate patient choice with National Healthcare Decisions Day. If you haven’t made such decisions yet, please take a moment to talk with your family about your values, your priorities and your preferences; and while you’re at it, ask them about theirs. I have had the good fortune to face these decisions with time and the support of my loved ones, and it has made all the difference.
Do it now! Don’t delay!
Do you have your own experience of medical decision-making you’d like to share? Join the conversation. Compassion & Choices is actively moving the message of patient choice forward. Contact us at 800.247.7421 to find out how you can help.