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Remembering Heather Block, Tireless Patient Advocate and Friend of Compassion & Choices

By Alyson Lynch, Communications Coordinator, Compassion & Choices

Heather Block speaks to the press while attending the Delaware lobby day.

Heather Block of Lewes, Delaware, passed away this month at the age of 55. Block spent her career running elections and anti corruption programs abroad before she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer five years ago. Her diagnosis led her to advocate for numerous issues in her home state of Delaware including medicare insurance reform and making drug prices affordable for all.

Her cancer eventually progressed into her brain and spinal fluid and spread to her bone marrow, so she did not qualify for any clinical trials. She took chemotherapy drugs to slow the progression of the disease. Block knew that at some point the chemotherapy drugs would stop working or her body would give out, and when that happened, she would die. She accepted this fate but wanted the peace of mind of knowing that she would die without suffering.

So Heather’s final fight was to bring medical aid in dying to her state, and she spent her precious remaining months working to pass the Delaware End of Life Option Act. She participated in lobbying efforts and educational events, wrote to local newspapers and was interviewed by media outlets. “An end-of-life options law will give me the freedom to achieve a peaceful death,” she said. “Eventually my treatment options will run out. I would like my life to end the way I’ve lived: surrounded by my friends and loved ones. That’s why I’m fighting hard to pass the Delaware End of Life Options Act.”

Tina Posterli, Compassion & Choices’ advocacy communications manager, said, “Heather was a powerful voice and trailblazer in the movement to pass the End of Life Options Act in Delaware. She gave generously of her time right up until the last days of her life advocating for medical aid in dying, which she desperately wanted but was not able to utilize. We need to carry her voice with us as we continue to fight to authorize medical aid in dying for other terminally ill Delawareans who urgently need this end-of-life option.”