Pamela Gredicak is a high school administrator on disability retirement in Columbus, Ohio.
I was first diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease while working as a school administrator in 2001 and then diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2009. I am pursuing all treatment options available to me.
My goal is to live long enough to outlive my parents because I worry that my death would literally kill my father. I don’t want my mother to have to bury one of her children.
My husband, Stephen, has been with me through every stage of my illnesses: the side effects, surgeries, and numerous hospitalizations. He and I have had discussions about how he can go on with his life when I’m gone. I want him to be settled in our new home, I don’t want him to have to sit and watch me die slowly in agonizing pain.
[I]t is as important to choose the way we die as it is to choose the way we live.
Stephen and I love to travel. We have been on many cruises, and share a passion for adventure and different cultures. Las Vegas is our playground as we both love to gamble. We had planned a lengthy trip to the far east, but had to cancel it when my cancer returned.
Living Life Until the End
I don’t want to stop what I’ve been doing; I still have so much left to do. I want to live my life until I can’t for another moment. I want quality for as long as I can have it and then I want to stop putting the people I love through this pain.
I will do anything I can to share this important message with the world: that it is as important to choose the way we die as it is to choose the way we live.
I don’t believe there are many who would choose to struggle through those last horrible days, weeks or months while our loved ones feel obligated to visit us in places that feel and smell like death. I want my husband to not be so scarred by my death that he can’t go on living. These are some of the reasons that the Death with Dignity law is so very important to me.
Control over Death
Opponents believe that it’s the depressed and weary who are convinced Death with Dignity is the only option. That’s not the case for me. I have been in control of the way I lead my life, as much as I am allowed by my illnesses. I believe I should have control over my death.
The work Death with Dignity advocates do is difficult, often frustrating, and yet so very important. I feel compelled to help in any way that I can, while I still can, which is the reason I’m sharing my story. It is my hope that my story will help to promote change in the laws that limit options on dying with our dignity intact.