I am a 52-year-old Arizona resident with end-stage ovarian cancer. I have exhausted my treatment options and entered hospice care. I am writing to encourage a Death with Dignity bill for consideration in Arizona.
I am an educated, biomedical scientist and a registered nurse, and I am sure that I would choose this option, were it available to me.
At the moment, I can still enjoy visits from friends and family, but my pain-free and functional hours in the day are dwindling. The cancer has taken over my liver and the tumor has enlarged the liver to four times its normal size, putting pressure on my back, rib cage and stomach/intestines, causing frequent nausea/ vomiting and a continual ache in my midsection. I have tried morphine and oxycodone, but both of these cause more bouts of nausea and vomiting.
I would like to have the option of a euthanasia prescription written by an MD, so that I could be certain of ending my life successfully before things got much worse. All of my family and most of my friends are in agreement with this plan. Not only would it spare me three to four weeks of severe pain and suffering, it would also spare my husband and daughter from witnessing the worst phase of my decline and having to care for me 24/7.
The purpose of hospice is to the keep the patient comfortable, but there will be acute changes in my condition during the next few weeks that will be extremely painful and unpleasant. The growth of the tumor will soon cause a bowel obstruction and liver failure with all the concomitant conditions.
I have had two beloved dogs (one with cancer) who have been euthanized in my home when the time was right. I only wish I had this option for myself.
Even as a nurse, I am afraid if I assemble my own combination of euthanasia drugs, I could create a worse situation for myself and not succeed in dying. Arizona needs legislation passed to allow death with dignity similar to the ones that have passed in Washington, Oregon, California, Vermont, Colorado and Washington, D.C.
No one who does not believe it is right for them need take advantage of this option, but it needs to be available for people like me.
Editor’s note: This opinion piece was submitted to the Star along with by a note from the author’s husband, Kim Stone: “Alice died at home in my arms with my daughter Leanne holding her tight on Feb. 27 at 3:07 p.m. The last thing she wrote is her plea above, so others in Arizona don’t have to go through the same painful death that she knew would happen to her.”