Brittany has an incurable, aggressive form of brain cancer. After two unsuccessful surgeries, Brittany's only treatment option is full brain radiation. However, the side effects from the treatment could destroy her quality of life for the little time she has left. She could die in hospice, but run the risk of developing morphine-resistant pain. While the cancer eats away at her brain, she could experience personality changes and a loss of verbal, cognitive and motor skills. Instead of radiation, Brittany made a decision. She packed up her life in California and moved to Oregon- one of only 5 states that has the Death with Dignity Act, an end-of-life option for mentally competent, terminally ill patients with six months or less to live. In the event the dying process becomes unbearable, this act allows patients to self-ingest doctor prescribed medication that will end their life.
I read Brittany's story on Facebook last night, and was overwhelmed by the number of those commenting on her story. Some supported her; many criticized her citing Biblical reasons. As a Christian believer, I understand her critics. However, from someone who has walked the same path as
Brittany is headed, I understand her decision.
I lost my father two weeks ago. He was only 61. Like Brittany, my dad suffered from a cancer that required brain radiation. He took the chance with treatment, then we watched as everyone of
|Post cancer, post radiation, prior to severe brain necrosis, |
prior to the surgery that removed his ear and temporal bone
Nov. 1, two days after her husband's birthday, Brittany plans to ingest the pills that will end her life. She plans to be in her own bed, surrounded by family and listening to her favorite music. She will still have her mind. She will still have her dignity. She will not be in physical pain. She will have
spent her final days traveling to her favorite places with those she loves.
I can't say which way to exit this world is best; I can't say if that final act will have any bearing on the eternal soul. I can only wonder, if given the chance again, would my dad have chosen a different path?
(See Brittany's Story)
(See the slideshow from Dad's funeral)