Life and Death, part 6

Ever text someone at just the worst possible time?

Yesterday, I asked my friend Alex if he’d like to get something for dinner before he went to work.  His response was something I didn’t expect.

I can’t, I have the girls until I have to leave for work because mom had to make an emergency trip to Canada to see aunt Yvette.  She has lung cancer and it has spread to both breasts and other parts of her body.  She’s opting for doctor assisted suicide at the end of the week.

Ouch.  Needless to say, he’s not taking this news well as after that he was more than a little upset at her decision.  Having witnessed firsthand what cancer does to a person, I feel like she is justified in her decision to end her life while she is still in full control of her faculties.  It’s what I would want were I in her place.  It’s what I will demand if I’m ever in that situation.

I still remember the daily living horror of watching my mother wither away while she had cancer.  Initially she was herself, only sick.  But as the last year of her life went on, the pain became unbearable and the sickness slowly eroded her humanity until what I was looking at from day to day was a husk, a shell of a human being, kept alive by drugs and our selfishness, our inability to let her go peacefully.  Had I had any say in the matter and any level of maturity (I was 17 when she died) I think I would have had that talk with my family about letting her go, whether they liked it or not.  I can still remember her last night at home.  I stood there with my father and watched helplessly as she went through her death throes and finally stopped breathing.  This is the personal hell I endure, that I live with from day to day.  Most of the time the flames don’t bother me, but today I feel their wrath.

My knee jerk reaction to Alex’s disdain for her decision to end her life was a simple question:  who would you be keeping her alive for, her or yourself?  It’s a painful question and not one with an easy answer to say the least but I think it’s one that everyone with a sick and dying relative should think about.