Voices: Do No Harm
My son, Bob, was the chief of the emergency room at our local community hospital. He was a beautiful human being, a wonderful caring doctor and a fantastic athlete. In high school in Los Angeles, he was a first-string All City quarterback. He was scouted by two professional baseball teams for his pitching ability, had many football scholarships offered before finally accepting a scholarship to Stanford.
After deciding that medicine was his true love, he went on to become one of the youngest board-certified emergency room specialists in the country. His way of relaxing, after a full shift at the hospital, was to do a 10-mile run and then lift weights. It was there, in the mirror, lifting weights, that he saw the signs of what proved to be breast cancer.
The medicine he received from the excellent and concerned palliative care team was not enough for him, and actually had the effect of making him paranoid and constipated. The treatment of the latter made him incontinent. The hospice image of the family gathered around as the patient dies in comfort was unachievable. He lived in agony, his dignity gone.
Greater doses of pain medication left him comatose. With a lesser dose, he was in agony. He withdrew from his kids, nephews, friends and parents. Bob's persona was gone. His cancer, and his pain-riddled body, remained.
I ask of those who oppose aid-in-dying, who would have been harmed if my son had died two weeks earlier? Could he have been made more comfortable if there had been no fear of the legal barriers to the use of pain medications?
I urge you, for your own sake, for the sake of your parents and for the sake of your own children, pass this humane law. Pass AB 651.
Eugene Glick is a member of Compassion & Choices. He shared the story of his son, Bob, as an impassioned plea to the California legislature to pass the Compassionate Choices Act.
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This article was provided by Compassion & Choices. It is a part of the publication Compassion & Choices Magazine.