For nearly two decades Susan Woods of Portland, Oregon, has supported Compassion & Choices as a donor and now a lifetime member. Retired from her career as a pediatric physical therapist working with children challenged by disabilities such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida, she answered a call for volunteers in C&C’s Portland office in 2011. “I really enjoy detail work, so I thought maybe I could help out that way,” says Susan, who assists with database maintenance, events and other projects – contributions that earned her Compassion & Choices Oregon’s Volunteer of the Year Award for 2016. “I was so honored but really thought it should be someone who goes out and works with the clients, because I have so much respect for those people and am so amazed by what they do,” she said.
Wanting the ability to access aid in dying for herself brought Susan to the movement in the first place, but the recent death of her father highlighted the importance of another key C&C effort: reducing unwanted medical treatment. “I just think that’s such a huge issue,” said Susan, who’s grateful to the doctor for not pressuring the family to agree to a feeding tube when her father’s condition worsened due to a lack of nutrition. “We all knew we didn’t want that, but my mother’s of the old school that whatever the doctor says, you do. And he was just so nice about saying, ‘Sometimes what we can do isn’t what we should do,’” she recalls.
“I’m just glad to be even a small part of this whole movement,” Susan says of her involvement. “And C&C is such a great organization overall. I love it.“