Monday, November 3, 2014


Michael Davis' tumor

I considered blogging about Brittany Maynard and her compelling right to die story, but I could not bring myself to do it.  I believe that this is each person's decision, and I really have no business weighing in.  We all know what I would have done in her situation:  here I am.  Yet, she has her own value system and her own way of determining what is best for her family and how can I analyze that? I can't.

My only worry is that, should it become law in my state,  insurance companies may possibly start denying care and pushing people into making this decision when they might not have before.  If it could be pure than I could support it but in business and politics there is no purity, and I do believe, if an error is to be made, it should be made on the side of respecting life above all else.  And that is pretty much the extent of my thoughts on this poor woman and this controversy, except that I wish her family peace and comfort during this difficult time.

I know this has been a polarizing story.  I thought this might be the time to show that there are people who want to live on when they have glioma, who chose a different path. My friend Michael is one. I've known him since 2002, before cancer had entered either of our lives.  Last summer, he had surgery to remove his deadly tumor, which you can see above, was nearly half his brain.  He spent four months in a rehab center but recovered enough to be released to his family. He is now doing chemo.

He has had a very tough road, and it is unlikely to get easier for a while. He is a father who can no longer work. He got cancer 8 months before his job would have been saved for him. He is trying to get COBRA.   He's working with the drug companies to try and get his supportive, anti-seizure, anti-nausea meds covered.  He has struggled to relearn many things we take for granted.  Yet he is enjoying his children and appreciating life.

He and his family can use financial support.  Here is his GoFundMe page.  You can read his updates, although they are difficult due to the language processing centers that were damaged.  But you can still see the sense of humor and hope that shine through.

If you can help a guy out, this is the one to help. Even if you can't help by donating, you can help by sharing this with your friends.   The more people who see it, the better. He does not have a professionally done video, or any news media to help get the word out, or a professional writer to help state his case - nothing but his family and his words before he underwent treatment. Of all things, this should go viral. If a guy can get tens of thousands of dollars for making potato salad, then surely people will find it in their hearts to give this family a little security as they deal with this awful situation - one that I understand deeply, can happen to any one of us, at any time.

Those of you who believe that Brittany Maynard did the "wrong" thing, I think you have a responsibility to put your backing behind somebody who is doing what you think is the "right" thing, don't you?  Here is your chance.

Mostly....Thanksgiving is coming. Then Christmas.  Let's buy this family a turkey - and then some! Let's give them some breathing room. Let's make those kids have one less thing to fear.

To donate directly:   First Financial, Michael Davis Medical Fund/#02110099799, 4400 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene, Texas 79606


  1. I don't think there is a right or wrong response. But my problem with Ms. Maynard is that she implies "her way" is the only way to die with dignity. People who are actively dying of brain cancer can still have their dignity. And even if one is completely dependent on family to care for them even when they are having seizures and losing control can still have dignity. Some people feel in control when they chose to end their life. But it is sad that she is guessing that it was all over for her. Last week she was I believe enjoying the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

    1. Her mother told Brittany that it would be a privilege to care for her - a privilege. You don't lose dignity when people are proud to help you, I don't think. But she was very young, you know? Her perspective was a bit different. It has taken me a long time to learn to accept help.

      Like I said, I don't believe in substituting my value system for somebody else's so I won't really weigh on on this subject - I truly do not know. Unfortunately, that is what I fear will happen with me and many terminally ill people who do choose to continue treatment - others will indirectly impose their values on us. From a young person's standpoint, I am old, worth little, and my life is not valuable enough to spend millions on, and that worries me.

  2. I made the mistake of commenting on MSN, saying clearly that while I respect her decision, and truly sympathize, that the people who should be called brave and heroic are those who fight their cancer, while she chose not to even try chemo or radiation. I also clearly identified myself as also having stage 4 cancer.

    Apparently, our doctors only treat us and keep us alive longer because they are greedy. Except for the ones who do it because hospitals have been secretly bought by fundamentalist Christians. Oh, and I've never known pain and a couple wished I would get cancer (really?)..... apparently reading comprehension is NOT a strong point. I'll spare you the name calling. Pretty vicious. And the cost savings of suicide over treatment or end of life pain management was mentioned more than once.

    My deepest concern is that the insurance and political bean counters may someday see this as a substitute for legitimate life extending or even palliative treatments, or the time may come when societal expectations or ignorance might push people to embrace the suicide or euthanasia answer when they otherwise would not. And it already looks like people will decide by whatever side runs the best publicity campaign.

    Many of us have endured some pretty harsh treatments and know others of various cancers who have also, including for some of us others with brain cancers. (A lady in my church has that same brain cancer and is going through radiation after the surgery.) And we know we are expensive to keep alive. Concern for pain at the end is a very real issue for all of us. Life and death issues need more consideration than a pretty face with a tragic story.
    Elizabeth J.

    1. We share the same concern. I truly do believe that when money starts to play a huge role in decisions like these, people like me are going to be losers. Why would you spend 2 million dollars on a 50 year old school secretary? If one is going to start analyzing lives for value, I will lose every day. That's why I don't want the government involved or anybody pushed to this. But that has NOTHING to do with this young woman's individual decision. I am not calling her a suicide and I am not calling her a hero. She's a woman who did what she thought was best for everybody in a horrifying situation, period.

      I have seen the underbelly of the internet and the kind of reactions you have experienced. While I've not taken sides on Brittany's choice and have very clearly said that everybody has to use their own value system here - I've encountered some odd reactions from people who never even read what I said - the headline that went with the article I posted they attributed to me and they became angry, unliked me, etc., even though underneath I disagreed with it. There was a tremendous amount of misinformation with a lot of the statements and it sometimes makes me fear for people.

      I have made a rule that in the future, I will not talk to anybody who only reads the headline of a story and not the article. It's shocking to me that people make very pronounced statements of disagreement based on a headline designed to mislead, although in our soundbyte society I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

  3. Another way to help is to help a friend (or family member) in need. At some point in our lives we will know someone who is in dire need. Whether its cancer or something else. If you have the ability to give, even if it is time, give. A ride to the hospital. A meal. Running errands. An afternoon visit. All of these are more precious than gold to someone in need.

  4. Yes...but. I live in Oregon. People take the Death with Dignity Act very seriously. There are real protections around it. And as far as I know, no one has been denied insurance coverage or other treatment because the law is in effect.
    How someone makes this decision is so personal and situation-dependent. If my cancer comes back while my daughter is still very young, I might choose to die on my own terms rather than have her last memory of me be of intense pain and suffering. Then again, I might not. I just don't know how I would feel when push comes to shove, just like we can't know how anyone else would or does feel.
    I'm glad I live in a place where there's a choice, even if it's a choice I might not make.


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