Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Charles Miller
Having seen hundreds of patients through the end of their lives, Hawaiʻi oncologist Charles Miller looks forward to finally being able to help people access medical aid in dying.
December 6, 2018
An active supporter of Compassion & Choices since 2012 as well as a member of our Doctors for Dignity program, Charles Miller’s firm belief in end-of-life options came from his more than 40 years as a medical oncologist. “Taking care of dying patients for that long a period of time, I always felt like a patient should have some say in how their life ends,” he explains. “Once you’re an oncologist, it takes some years of maturing to recognize or put into perspective that it’s not the right thing to always treat the patient; sometimes it’s best to stop treatment. It takes a while for all doctors to get used to that. In general, the patients know exactly what they want. I believe it should be our job, as physicians, to support our patients in their end-of-life choices whatever they are.”
A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Dr. Miller is board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology. He spent 30 years in the U.S. Army Medical Department, was chief consultant to the surgeon general and has served on the Hawaii Society of Clinical Oncology board of directors since 2002, as president for seven of those years. He remains actively involved with the American Society of Clinical Oncology and holds a clinical appointment to the University of Hawaii Cancer Center.
Dr. Miller has been especially helpful to Compassion & Choices the past two years, testifying before the state Legislature to get a medical aid-in-dying law passed in Hawaii. “We finally did it,” he says, “so now I’m very actively involved in the implementation and integration process. I suspect that in a year or two, no one will even bat an eye about it. But these first steps are still a challenge. I will have my greatest satisfaction when I’m able to write my first prescription to give to a patient who requests medical aid in dying.”