We All Deserve a Right to Choice

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Penny Shelfer
Penny Shelfer, Texas

A message from Penny:

I remember reading about the Death With Dignity movement at some point before my diagnosis.

I began working as a fitter for a mastectomy boutique in October of 2008, two months after my own mastectomy, which was caused by the stage III breast cancer found in my left breast and many lymph nodes in the left auxilla. Working in a position that would allow me to directly support other women and families affected by breast cancer came naturally to me, and also took the focus off of myself.

While working there, I’d met so many women who were devastated not just by the disease itself, but also the physical damage caused by sometimes numerous surgeries and radiation. When a person’s diagnosed with cancer, in many cases the first word associated in one’s mind is Death. Prolonged and pain filled.

I began researching the Death With Dignity Acts in Oregon and Washington because, like many of the ladies who voiced their fears to me, I do not want to die in agony and have my family witness such a death. Through my research I discovered the documentary How to Die in Oregon and after shedding tears of relief that Death with Dignity is a viable and legal option in some states, a huge weight was lifted from my soul.

The main person who stood out to me in the film was Cody Curtis and her loving relationships with her family. How wonderful to gather your loved ones while still ambulatory for a last celebration, take your drink, then drift off to the final sleep! To me, it’s a perfectly beautiful and humane ending for a person dying because of a terminal disease.

Unfortunately, we Texas residents don’t have the option of Death with Dignity yet. But I, along with many other Texans are working toward one day having a Texas Death with Dignity Act, and I have hope that one day all 50 states will have this law on the books. We all deserve a right to choice, a right to a gentle death. A death with dignity.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center



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