Despite advancing march of the disease, Sarah continues to remain active in pursuing her projects and making arrangements to move to a hospice from her beloved cottage and the garden in which she takes so much pleasure. In terms of physical distance the hospice is not far. If feasible, Sarah would rather spend her remaining days in the cottage, among familiar scenes, objects, and with her two dogs.
Sarah took this photograph a few days ago.
"The falling leaves
fall and pile up: the rain
beats on the rain."
--Gyodai, translated by Harold Henderson
In a message, Sarah wrote on November 9th:
- Stefan has been and cleared ALL the leaves, AND composed the front garden. The earth becomes barer and barer, like me? Lucky to have him. At first, no dialogue. Now he tells lots of stories. Like that. So now, I, too, am spending a lot of time looking out the window, loving either the rain or the blue skies. The owl hoots every night. Love that, too.
Even among her friends, not everyone agrees with her decision. There are those who, for religious or other reasons, make use of all available resources that medical science offers to live longer even when hooked up to tubes. It is not about of being right or wrong. It is a very personal issue -- what being 'alive' means to some people.
But, after all is said, we cannot really feel the depth of emotional pain and suffering of her children.
Hemlock Society, America's oldest right-to-die organization, founded in 1980 in Santa Monica, CA, by Derek Humphrey, has splintered into different groups. Prominent among them is Compassion and Choices. Politics played a role in the demise of the Hemlock Society. A pity. The name was right, and so was its motto: "Good Life, Good Death".
Sarah's account of her illness contains a wealth of data about cancer and mentions an article in The Guardian about "......the ethical fudge which permits the refusal of treatment and terminal sedation, but not assisted dying". And an item from Dignity in Dying.org uk.
- 8 October 2009: New research shows a third of deaths are hastened by doctors
- Clive Seale's research into end of life practice, published this week in Social Science and Medicine, has found that over a third of doctors say they have given drugs to terminally ill patients, or withdrawn treatment, knowing that it would or intending to shorten their life."
This argument is not likely to come to a conclusion anytime soon. But that there are compassionate physicians who quietly play a role in assisting terminally ill patients is no secret.
*****Death with Dignity Hospice Hemlock Society