If you believe that all Minnesotans deserve the option of a peaceful death, ask your lawmakers to take action.

I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in February 2018 and have been dealing with it recurring again and again. Dealing with continuous back to back recurrences and treatment had been incredibly difficult even though my family and I strive everyday to live our lives in the most positive way irrespective of what we are going through. My goal is to stay with my family as long as I can, physically and emotionally. That’s why I endure treatment after treatment. My motivation is to extend my time with my family with the help of my doctors, care team and my beautiful family. 

So far, I’ve had numerous rounds of chemo, radiation and three large surgeries and again dealing with another recurrence and repeat of the same course of treatment. It’s been incredibly hard. I have learned through my experience what every cancer patient knows well: the treatment is often as hard as the disease, the recovery is brutal and the side effects are incredibly difficult. After my last surgery, it took me several months to finally be able to walk again.

Recently, I read a proclamation by Minnesota religious leaders stating that people who support medical aid in dying are trying to remove all pain from a person’s life and it is wrong. I found the statement deeply offensive, judgmental, insensitive and out of touch with the pain suffered by terminally ill people.

Their words left me feeling like they do not understand the intensity of pain people with cancer and other diseases live through. There needs to be greater empathy, especially because religious leaders are looked at by the community as pillars of empathy and compassion. Terminally ill people who consider medical aid in dying as an important option have often gone through incredible pain and suffering already, likely for many years. There is a limit to a person’s capacity to suffer.

We as a society should not be dictating the terms for a very private and personal decision like how much suffering a person is able to tolerate. There are many things that human beings are still not able to explain with our intellect or wisdom. We shouldn’t assume that we know what God wants another human being in desperate circumstances to do. It should be left to that individual to figure out according to their own conscience.

As a practicing Catholic, my faith is strong and very important to me and my family. My faith gives me strength to keep fighting and enduring aggressive treatments. The way I understand Jesus is that he is very compassionate and loving. He would not want people to suffer extensively and unnecessarily.

I, myself, want the option of medical aid in dying available because it would provide me peace of mind and strength to continue seeking treatments to extend my life. I’m not ready to pass on. I hope we can cure my cancer. I fear, however, that I may set myself up for an agonizing and prolonged death due to endless aggressive treatments that take a toll on my physical being. Medical aid in dying would give me the confidence and strength to keep doing everything available because if it ever became clear that it’s a fight I am going to lose, there is another path to choose at that point.