Barbara Davis of Newark wanted to get involved with the New Jersey chapter of Compassion & Choices after witnessing her sister’s excruciating, drawn-out death from cancer. Helpless to ease her sister’s pain, which even hospice care couldn’t fully manage, Davis’ eyes were opened to the insufficient end-of-life options in her state. “If she could have, she would have chosen aid in dying, because she was really suffering,” Davis says of her sister. “She suffered the whole time – for weeks and weeks and weeks.”
The experience brought Davis to C&C, and she signed on as a volunteer. A former Essex County district leader, Davis understands the importance of appealing directly to lawmakers and has participated in a number of legislative visits at the Capitol. “I was a district leader for 30 years. I know that politicians need to hear from real people and hear real stories,” she says.
She also speaks about C&C and the end-of-life choice movement to others around her community, imploring them to consider issues that people often choose to avoid. “I’ll ask outright, ‘Would you like to suffer in agony at the end of life, or would you rather go out peacefully?’ It’s hard to think about, and some people say they’re not sure, but I know what I would choose.”
Though she can’t be certain what her own final days will bring, Davis, who was raised Catholic and has since become a Baptist, feels Compassion & Choices’ work is crucial and is proud to do what she can to contribute. “If it’s going to help somebody go out with less pain, that’s a very good thing.”