The successful passage of the Colorado End of Life Options Act in November 2016 was due in part to passionate and dedicated volunteers like SueAnn Fitch, an attorney from Denver. Just days after her daughter-in-law finished treatment for breast cancer, SueAnn saw the ballot initiative in the newspaper and called C&C looking to volunteer. “Then she came into the Denver office every day, five to six days per week for four to six hours per day, for months of the campaign,” says Amy Hetzler, C&C’s current multi-state campaign organizer. “If we had a 500-hour volunteer recognition pin, SueAnn would get one!”
SueAnn spent long hours alongside staff and volunteers managing phone calls and supporter databases while helping other volunteers prepare for their duties in the field. In February, two months after the law went into effect, SueAnn was diagnosed with cancer. Luckily, her diagnosis wasn’t the first time she’d thought about her end-of-life options. Her parents instilled in her a lifelong belief in choice and bodily integrity. She explains, “I never really grew up any other way; that’s always been my concept of life, that you take a good death rather than a bad death.” SueAnn has maintained a durable power of attorney since she was a teenager, and now her husband and children also actively participate in end-of-life discussions and recognize the importance of keeping documented wishes.
Passing an aid-in-dying law is no guarantee that individuals will be aware of their options. That’s why SueAnn isn’t done volunteering with Compassion & Choices. She’s eager to use the large volunteer database that was developed during the campaign to keep people involved in this important work. Her biggest concern is “getting the information out there to people so that they can inform their physicians and so that they can make rational decisions.”