Judy shared her story in May 2019.
In 2014, I was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. In fact, I have had two rounds of two different kinds of lymphoma.
And in my case, I had an 80 percent chance of remission. So, I went ahead and did multiple rounds of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. But the treatments were brutal.
I’m allergic to just about every painkiller they’ve ever tried on me, any kind of percodan, oxycontin, oxycodone, or morphine. I hallucinate and become violently ill.
There were points during chemo when I didn’t know my name or I couldn’t write it. I lost more than 10 percent of my weight. It was a complete loss of quality of life, independence, and autonomy.
Fortunately, my cancer is currently in remission, but should it return, as my doctors expect it will, and I receive a prognosis of six months or less to live, I want the full range of end-of-life care options, including medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying gives terminally ill adults the option to request a prescription for medication they may decide to take to peacefully end their suffering.
I want to avoid the last and worst part of the dying process I know I will experience. To face it, I need the option of medical aid in dying. It defies basic fairness and logic that terminally ill Delawareans on one side of the Delaware River don’t have the same option to die peacefully, as do New Jerseyans on the other side of the river. That’s why I am among the 72 percent of Delaware voters across the geographic, political, and racial spectrum who support the Ron Silverio/Heather Block End of Life Options Act that would provide terminally ill adults in Delaware with the option of medical aid in dying.
My loved ones support me and want me to have the help I want to have this option. My son says: “Mom, whatever you want and whatever you need, we’re here for you.”
I may not use this option. Hospice may be enough to ease my end-of-life suffering, and if that’s the case, then I will be grateful. I am asking for help so I won’t suffer needlessly. I don’t want my loved ones to suffer. And I don’t want to simply be an object of care. I want to be involved in living up to the very end.
The option of medical aid in dying is not about giving up on life. Instead, it allows people like me to have more full, more active, more good days, more fully involved in life. I don’t want to die fearfully. I want to die affirming the fact that I’ve had this opportunity to be alive in this amazing world, and to say goodbye and I love you to my family and friends.
Being able to know that I can make my own decisions about my end-of-life care animates my life and gives me the sense of well-being and security that allows me to appreciate my life every single day.