I remember when my Grandma Doris at the age of 90 said to me, ‘My friends are all dead. I am tired of living and I don’t want to ever live in a nursing home. I’m ready to die.’ But there was nothing our family could do to honor her request. She lived until just after her 100th birthday and for many of those years in a nursing home, unable to speak, barely able to hear, unable to feed herself, in diapers, her hands atrophied and in a wheel chair. She didn’t have to suffer that way if we could have legally honored her request.
Then I read this article about Ovidio Gonzalez, the first legal euthanasia case for the devastating side effects of oral cancer. It reminded me about that day with Grandma when I drove to her Manhattan apartment, parked in a 30-minute meter just to stop up and say hello, and couldn’t leave her when she told me she wanted to die. Needless to say, my car was ticketed. I actually wrote a letter to the NY Transportation Department telling them why the meter expired. Believe it or not, they excused the ticket saying this was the first time they got that excuse so they believed me.
“There is no pain more devastating than in your mouth and throat. It effects your ability to speak, eat, socialize….to live your life.”Knowing personally the unbearable pain from treatment for oral cancer, I felt sympathy for this 79 year old man from Columbia who no longer wanted to live with his terminal cancer diagnosis. There is no pain more devastating than in your mouth and throat. It effects your ability to speak, eat, socialize….to live your life.
In this mostly Roman Catholic country, he represents the very first legal euthanasia case. I remember the night 4 weeks into radiation when I wanted to give up and end treatments. I had youth on my side and the motivation of young children to fight harder than Mr. Gonzalez, may he rest in peace. His family gave him the utmost respect by honoring his request.