Personal Stories

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In the Death with Dignity movement we all have experiences to share. These are our constituents' personal stories of courage, pain, joy, fear, sadness and hope.

To tell your story and help others understand why Death with Dignity laws are important please send an email to Melissa.

Always remember: you are not alone.

Public Displays of Cancer

Lisa Bonchek Adams' Twitter profile

There isn't much to add to the ongoing cultural conversation about Lisa Bonchek Adams, a woman with stage 4 breast cancer who is using Twitter and the blogosphere as a platform to tell her life's story, and Emma and Bill Keller, a wife and husband team of opinion columnists who publicly questioned the seriously ill woman's use of Twitter.

The story as it played out in the media goes something like this: Adams was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago at the age of 37. She's a mother with three young children whose goal is to live long enough to see her children grow up. Like many individuals with the disease, she's sought out aggressive treatment for metastatic breast cancer. She's a prolific blogger and uses Twitter to chronicle her life.

Read more: Public Displays of Cancer

Demystifying Death for a Child

Stacey and her family at Race for the Cure

Stacey Tinianov is a caffeine-powered working mama and shiny object follower, runner, suburban environmentalist, cyclist, breast cancer ass-kicker, and empowered patient advocate. Follow her on Twitter, @CoffeeMommy.

Three years ago, the idea of choosing death over life was a completely foreign concept to me. And then my 85-year old grandmother had a massive stroke on the day of my son's 9th birthday party.

Within 12 hours, I was on a plane to Texas and not long after I was in the ICU holding her hand. She was lucid but completely paralyzed on one side. She tried to talk but she was hard to understand. She was irritated to be stuck in a bed and didn't seem to understand half her body wasn't working. She would pump her leg and arm as if she were running to prove she did indeed have body control.

With the combination of her spunk, the support of her family gathered around her bedside and the excellent care she was receiving in the hospital, we all thought—assumed—she'd recover.

Then, she failed her swallow test. And we watched her lose her will to live.

Read more: Demystifying Death for a Child

Martha's Wish

People sometimes lament about the impersonal nature of social media. Some feel they don't connect with their friends and family on a "real" level as much as they used to, we're all too plugged into our personal electronic devices instead of interacting with those around us. Watching my fellow bus riders stare at their screens on the way into work this morning, I can understand this sentiment, but also I've found through my work with Death with Dignity National Center I often feel connected to complete strangers because of social media.

Just last week, I had the honor of working with a woman to create a visual way to share her dying friend's final wish to spread the word about Death with Dignity laws. Jeanette caught a Facebook post by her friend's husband, Carl, which stated his wife, Martha "says I need to spread the word. What better way than Facebook. She wants to know why, when a person is terminal, they are made to suffer through it instead of being able to go with dignity? Something is wrong with the laws of our country to allow a person to suffer like this."

Read more: Martha's Wish

Death with Dignity Supporters Have Stories to Tell

Everyday, I chat with people who want to help us advocate for the Death with Dignity laws we promote. Supporters come to us from all different groups and all 50 states, and they're some of the most dedicated you'll find. The reason people feel so strongly about these laws is usually because of a personal experience—either through facing a serious illness like Penny has or because they were bedside when a loved one died.

Unfortunately, most who've found us after witnessing a death did so because the dying person suffered terribly and pleaded for assistance in dying. This was the case for our newest board member, George Eighmey and long-time supporter Dee, who's committed to our long-term stability and has included us in her will.

Read more: Death with Dignity Supporters Have Stories to Tell

8 Things I Learned From My Brother Before He Died

Laura Saltman and her brother, Jason

Laura Saltman is a Host/Correspondent/TV Expert with over 14 years in the entertainment business. She has appeared on TV programs all over the dial including Access Hollywood, CNN's Showbiz Tonight, E's Chelsea Lately, CNN's The Joy Behar Show and TV Guide's Idol Chat and Fashion Team among others.

Her post originally appeared on her Access Hollywood blog, Dish of Salt.

While much of the world was mourning the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Friday, I was mourning the loss of my brother, Jason, who died at age 47 from stomach cancer.

They died 50 years apart on the exact same day.

While one was a beloved world leader and public figure and the other a private young man, they shared one major thing in common—that they wanted to make our world a better place. Even as a kid in his schoolwork my brother quoted JFK's "Nation of Immigrants" speech. My heart is broken at the loss of my brother but along the way he has taught me so much.

The things he learned in his life sometimes people never learn in their entire lifetimes. I'd like to believe his time on this earth was cut short not because cancer came knocking at his door but because he had learned everything we as human beings are meant to learn in this realm. I know wherever he is, he is going to continue his work healing the environment.

Read more: 8 Things I Learned From My Brother Before He Died

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You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, nonprofit organization, has been the leading advocate in the Death with Dignity movement. Individual contributions helped us pass new Death with Dignity laws in Washington and Vermont, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the Death with Dignity movement.

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