In May 2010, my brother Ethan Remmel was diagnosed with terminal and incurable Stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to his bones. Just over one year later, Ethan died at home in Bellingham, Washington, surrounded by family and friends. I still miss Ethan every day.
Washington is one of nine states where medical aid in dying is authorized. In 2011, 103 terminally ill, mentally competent people obtained aid in dying prescriptions in Washington, of whom 70 self-ingested the medication. The youngest of them was 41 years old. That was Ethan, partner of Grace and father of two sons, aged 8 and 3.
Ethan had excellent medical, pain management and hospice care; he was neither depressed nor mentally compromised. Indeed, he taught a college course that ended just three days before his death. When my brother obtained the medical aid in dying prescription, he did not know if he would use it, but found it comforting to know that he had that option if his suffering became intolerable as death approached.
Ethan detailed his decisions and struggles in his personal and Psychology Today blogs. This is Ethan’s story, in his own words:
“The prospect of not being able to be there for my sons as they grow up makes me really sad. I would like to see grandchildren, mentor junior colleagues as I have been mentored, take care of my parents in their old age, and grow old with Grace.” more at link