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I Hope I’m Wrong

By Eva Thompson, Camden, Maine
Eva Thompson

Eva Thompson

I hope I’m wrong.

It seems to me that in spite of a general population that is strongly (70% or so) in favor of Death with Dignity legislation, the current political mood might be too contentious and too distracted to favor personal rights issues.

Still, here in Maine we are gearing up to try again to pass legislation.

Two years ago LD1270 failed to pass by one vote in the Senate. As one of the onlookers standing by in case personal testimonies were called for, I can tell you that it was a sad loss, indeed (especially because the one vote it failed by came from someone other than the dissenter of the previous day, making one wonder about the process and how distracted our elected officials were by contentious budget issues happening at the time.)

The day LD 1270 failed to pass in Maine, I drove home from Augusta feeling that the right to a quick and peaceful death would not ever be mine. I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2013, and thanks to good treatments and my otherwise good health, I’ve been able to have good quality of life thus far. The treatment options available to me are running out, however, and I don’t have a lot of time.

Therefore, I hate to waste time.

I dislike how much time I’ve had to spend thinking about how the end will be for me, without the option of access to a prescription that would end things quickly. I dislike worrying about pain, and the medications I might have to take to alleviate that pain. I dislike the idea of my family having to endure the 2-3 weeks that it might take for me to die once I decide to stop eating and drinking (my current plan).

I am in no hurry for that time to come. I’ve just become a grandmother for the first time, and that’s strong motivation to live as long as possible. As an ordained interfaith minister, I continue to officiate weddings and funerals, and to give an occasional Sunday sermon: I feel like I’ve still got more to give my community. Since I’m still here, I have reason to hope that legislation may yet pass on time to help me find a quick and easy end to the struggle with cancer. Having the security of an available drug (“just in case”) would free my mind to focus on living.

As Maine gets ready to bring forth another bill, I hope our newly elected officials will give it their full attention and sympathy, regardless of what choice they think they would make for themselves. That’s what personal rights and freedoms are all about: having the options in place, and then letting people choose for themselves.

I hope they surprise me: I hope they will see the wisdom in the personal freedom to choose a peaceful death.