Sedona AZ (June 23, 2016) – A beautiful 29-year-old woman, Brittany Maynard had recently married and had her whole life ahead of her. She wanted to start a family. Then the headaches came. The debilitating seizures. And the diagnosis that she had brain cancer and would die in horrific pain within six months.
This set in motion a chain of events. She partnered with Compassion & Choices to make a video about her choice for “medical aid in dying” and her decision to move with her family from California to Oregon where she could legally access this option. Before she died, she wanted to help enact legislation around the country enabling people the freedom to choose “Death with Dignity” (enacted into Oregon law in 1998).
This YouTube video went viral and was seen by 100 million people who came to know her and her cause. It will be used to introduce the Compassion & Choices program scheduled at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, 2016, at the Sedona Public Library (3250 White Bear Road off Dry Creek Road). The public is invited to attend. Leesa Stevens and Karen Truskowski have spearheaded the Northern Arizona effort to bring awareness and education to its communities. They will talk about the specifics of medical aid in dying – what it is and what it isn’t.
Closer to home is the story of Terry Goldberg who lost her battle with MSA (multiple system atrophy) in February, 2015. A resident of Scottsdale, she died at home surrounded by her family after making the choice to stop eating and drinking. MSA is a rare, rapidly progressing, terminal neurodegenerative disease. It takes away the ability to walk, talk, swallow and breathe.
“If you were diagnosed with a (terminal) disease where you knew that every day was going to be worse than the day before….how can you judge someone wanting to die peacefully instead of a violent, horrible death,” asks Terry’s daughter, Lauren Cain.
Unfortunately, Arizona has not passed legislation for medical aid in dying. You will see a video of Terry and her family encouraging people to support Compassion & Choices’ efforts to improve and expand end-of-life choices. Lauren and her father, Lance, will be on hand to talk with guests.
This will be followed by Dr. Alan G. Molk, presenting a medical professional’s viewpoint. Dr. Molk is a full-time board certified Emergency Room physician who has been practicing since 1980. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor, Emergency Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine (Phoenix campus). He works in the Emergency Departments of Banner University Medical Center and Banner Estrella Medical Center, both in Phoenix.
“I became interested and passionate about end-of-life matters professionally, (seeing patients in the ER who are treated and resuscitated, but who also need palliative and hospice care – and counseling about their end of life); and personally, witnessing my late mother’s six-year journey with the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Many people don’t know how Medical Aid in Dying works, nor do their doctors.
Kara Rosseaux, a Compassion & Choices steering committee volunteer from Phoenix, will address this subject.
There are currently only five states that have death-with-dignity laws: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and California (Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law on June 9th as a result of Brittany Maynard’s plea for legislation). Legislation has since been introduced in 26 states plus the District of Columbia.
Compassion & Choices is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization committed to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life. Their goal is to gather enough supporters to persuade city and town councils in Northern Arizona to pass support resolutions for this measure. There will be an opportunity for questions and answers, and to learn what you can do to help. For more information, contact www.compassionandchoices.org or www.choicesarizona.org.