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Christy woke up the day after her daughter’s 20th birthday party and was not able to comprehend the words she was reading. She went to the emergency room, where doctors told her she had a golf-ball-sized tumor in her lung and three more tumors in her brain. Doctors told her she had two to three months to live.
Christy says she has tried every type of medical treatment, including 12 months of chemotherapy and brain surgery. During one round of chemotherapy, the civil rights attorney decided that because she loved the law, she wanted to try to change it.
Since then, she’s been fighting for the passage of California’s End of Life Options Act. The act allows patients to seek options for aid in dying if two doctors determine they have less than six months to live and they submit a written request, two oral requests, and have the mental capacity to make decisions.
“You realize that it’s very important the memory that your child is going to have to carry the rest of their life,” she says, “and I do not want my child’s last memory of me to be of me in excruciating pain while my lung fills up with my bodily fluid and I essentially drown in my own fluids. This end of life options act gives me and thousands of other terminally ill patients in California the ability to die peacefully, quickly, with our family.”
Hear Christy’s emotional description of her daughter’s feelings about her mother’s advocacy.
“I don’t think this should be controversial,” ER physician Travis Stork says, “and the reason I think it’s controversial is because it’s so greatly misunderstood, and it’s politicized.”
Update: Gov. Jerry Brown signed the End of Life Options Act on Oct. 5, days after the episode aired. It will go into effect in 2016. California joins four other states with similar laws: Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana.
Update: Christy passed away at her home on February 6, 2016, with her daughter holding her hand.
Learn more about the End of Life Options Act.