Judy Browning took her prescription for medical aid in dying and died peacefully on May 30, 2020. Her story was captured in early May.
On Saturday, May 30, I will gather with friends, toast the sunset, and die peacefully surrounded by loved ones, my doctor, and my death doula. My passing will be a party. Sunset has always been an occasion for me and my friends, a time to be together and celebrate our friendship.
It’s wonderful to be able to plan for my last day and to invite those that have been a part of my journey to be with me. It should be this way.
My mother died a gruesomely painful death from breast cancer, needlessly suffering beyond her preferred threshold. Her suffering was the impetus for my passionate support for aid in dying. My mother begged me to get her the ingredients necessary to help her die. I couldn’t help her. I knew that if I did, I would go to jail. I wish there would have been a better option.
I am grateful that I have the option of medical aid in dying in Hawaiʻi. I have been living with breast cancer, with some years of remission, since 2010 and I am now in the terminal phase of my disease. Having been a supporter of this movement since I was in my early 20s, I followed our state’s legislation closely. I felt a great sense of relief and hope for my future when the Hawai‘i Our Care, Our Choice Act was signed into law by Governor David Ige. I knew in that moment that I, now, could have a better death than the one my mother was afforded.
Thankfully, the process of obtaining my prescription went as it should - smoothly. I received my aid-in-dying prescription at the beginning of May and immediately felt a terrific sense of peace and fulfillment. I can finally say, “I can do this.” I know how I’m going to go. I can go when I want to go. Prior to receiving my prescription, I was filled with anxiety from the thought of having to hang around, in pain, not being able to engage in life in a joyful manner.
This has been part of my life plan. It’s mind-boggling to see it come to fruition. So many things had to fall into place. I’m so grateful to all who advocated and worked so hard to pass the legislation here.
I am in pain and growing weaker every day. I am unable to do the things that I’ve enjoyed most - I cannot cook beautiful meals nor play the piano. This is not living. All my conversations now have to do with my health issues. This is not conversation. I want to avoid this hanging on. I have lived a wonderful life. I’ve done so many different things. But now, it is time to leave the party.
I felt like the world had been lifted from my shoulders when I received my prescription. I hope legislators will continue to protect this compassionate law, which has provided me a great deal of freedom and peace.