this is about my mom

This is not a work post.

My mother woke up one morning last July itching all over her body, from the top of her head to the soles of her feet. She called me and I told her it was probably bug bites and her body’s antihistamine response was just misfiring.

It was not bug bites.

Several days later we learned she had a mass on her pancreas: cancer.

Several weeks later we learned that it had spread.

She was told in July that she had eight to eleven months to live. Maybe a bit more, maybe less.

I can’t explain strongly enough how blindsided I was. My mom, despite obviously being old enough to be my mom, is one of the healthiest people I know. She’s a passionate devotee of yoga and exercise. Half her friends are my age or younger (and my own friends tend to think she’s barely older than we are). Her sensibility is … not an old person’s. I recently watched her fill out a medical form that asked whether she’d had more than one sexual partner and she amused herself by writing, “Not at the same time.”

I guess my point is, she never really got old, regardless of her age, and at some level this led me to think I would have her forever. It turns out that I will not.

Metastatic pancreatic cancer is a bad cancer, as cancers go, and dying from pancreatic cancer is not a good death. It can be painful and prolonged. My mom doesn’t want to die that way, and she’s determined that she won’t — and that’s why I’m writing this.

For the last few years – starting well before her diagnosis – my mom has been a legislative advocate for Medical Aid in Dying.

Medical Aid in Dying allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with a prognosis of six months or less to live to request from their doctor a prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully in their sleep. It’s only legal in 10 states and D.C. She’s been working to make it legal in Virginia, where we live.

When she started working on the issue, she had no idea that the issue would become so personal to her; she just cared deeply about adults’ autonomy and right to make their own end-of-life choices.

My mom has always lived her life on her own terms, so it’s been no surprise to me that she’s spending the limited time she has left continuing to fight to be able to do that. Since her diagnosis, she has testified before our state legislature, lobbied elected officials, and last month went on TV to speak about the need for the law to change.

She stresses that with this legislation, terminally ill patients can fill the prescription and then decide never to take it; many people find peace just knowing they have the medicine on hand in case they need it, but never end up using it. They just want to know they have that control. (Also, states where it’s legal have strict safeguards to ensure the decision can be made only by the sick person themselves, not by doctors or family members or anyone else.)

Last month, a Virginia Senate subcommittee voted (on almost straight party lines) against passing the legislation in our state, so – despite having lived here most of her adult life – my mom now has to move into D.C., where she’ll be allowed to die without suffering when the time comes.

Medical Aid in Dying is currently legal in California, Colorado, D.C., Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state. Legislation has also been introduced in Arizona, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island.

If you live in a state that doesn’t currently give terminally ill people the right to ensure their death is a peaceful one, my mom and I very much hope you will contact your legislators and ask them to change that. The organization Compassion & Choices is the one she has been working with, and they make it easy for you to contact your elected representatives here.

some things about my mom

{ 630 comments… read them below }

  1. WiscoKate*

    People should have the dignity to die peacefully and without pain in these situations. I’m sorry about your mom.

    1. Squawkberries*

      Your mom sounds like a wonderful and formidable woman. Wishing you and your family love and peace as you navigate this.

      1. Eileen Lepro*

        Just want your mom to know how much I appreciate her inspiring work for this cause. I live in VA too. Sad that the Senators considering this legislation will not support it…yet. Wishing love and light to you and your mom and all of her loved ones as she moves forward.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I’ve always said we don’t let our pets suffer, yet we don’t give humans the same option of grace and dignity.

      Alison, I am so sorry about your mother. She is beautiful and amazing.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Exactly. We would never let our animals suffer the way we let our much loved people suffer.
        I lobby heavily in my state for this type of legislation.
        I wish your mom didn’t have to move because of this.
        I wish you and your mom much love and peace as you go through this process.

      2. Avril Ludgateaux*

        And with humans, we can often express our own wishes directly, unlike pets. When a pet is suffering, we presume they would prefer to be put down, and we make that decision for them. Yet when lucid but suffering people are explicitly begging for peace, we decide it is morally wrong to give it to them.

      3. Gigi*

        This so much. I watched my own mother die painfully of cancer and I kept thinking, “you wouldn’t treat a dog this way.” What are we doing, what are we thinking? People don’t want to think about death, but it could be a much more peaceful end chapter of life. I hope Alison’s mother gets to write the chapter the way she wants.

        1. Newbie*

          I want it available for myself! I don’t understand why this isn’t an obvious win when the decisionmakers themselves probably wouldn’t choose to end their lives the way we do now.

          1. Sally*

            I think they want to control other people more than just about anything else. I’m so sorry you and your mom are going through this, Alison, and I wish you both as much peace as possible.

            1. Rebecca*

              I totally agree; the insurance & “healthcare” companies don’t make money if you choose to end your life. It’s ridiculous and heartless. I wish you and your Mom all the best as you find your way through this.

        2. Anon for now*

          My mother died of cancer too. I stood next to her as she took her last breath. After I told my husband that if I ever got that bad that I would not haunt him if he “accidentally” gave me too much morphine.

          1. Sundari*

            My mom was on a constant morphine drip before she passed. Unfortunately, they set it up so you can only get a controlled amount at a time, and that amount wasn’t enough to ease her pain, let alone end her suffering.

            Big hugs to you, Alison, and everyone who has lost someone to the horror of long-term illness.

          2. Reluctant Mezzo*

            My husband died of a stroke just before Christmas; God bless the hospice nurse that gave him some morphine to ease his discomfort.

            In states where they don’t have reasonable laws, it would seem that it’s not that hard to acquire fentanyl (still don’t understand why it’s not used for executions).

      4. The OG Sleepless*

        Having been a part of so many peaceful deaths of animals, at a time of the owner’s choosing and with as much dignity and peace as possible, I am routinely horrified at how we make humans pass. I am an avid supporter of the right to die. My state is not likely to legalize it any time soon, so I have vaguely looked at residency options if I find myself in this situation.

    3. I have RBF*


      I’m glad Medical Aid in Dying is legal in my state, and I wish it was legal at the Federal level in the US. I have had relatives die of cancer, and it’s hard to deal with.

      My condolences about your mom, and may she have a peaceful death.

    4. Petty Patty*

      I also feel very, very strongly about death with dignity. Not only do I think it should be legal in every state and territory, I believe the conditions need to be broadened. Having developed a chronic pain condition in the last year (that is pretty well controlled with medication) and joined groups on social media, I see just badly many, many people are suffering with no hope of relief and a medical community that has abandoned them. The legislation that has restricted doctors’ abilities to prescribe pain medication is an abomination and has actually contributed to worsening the opioid crisis rather than relieving it.

      On a personal note, Alison, your description of being blindsided because of how full of LIFE your mom is, really resonates with me. Because it is similar to what I went through with my own mom in 2018, who passed away 5 weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. I know there isn’t anything else I can say that would make you feel better, just know I am thinking of you and your mom at this time. Hope her move to DC is as smooth as possible.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Working in the medical field and being involved in a number of medical-focused social media outlets, it is horrifying what kind of suffering we allow our supposedly loved ones to undergo.

        In many places, even if a patient has a formal DNR in place and other protections, medical staff in fear of lawsuits will frequently roll over for any family member who says that “meemaw is a fighter and it’s not her time yet” and keep the patient’s body ‘breathing’ even under horrendous conditions. (Medical staff frequently use the phrase “son/daughter from (California/Florida)” to describe the living-far-away semi-estranged adult child who suddenly flies in and demands that their parent be kept on all the machines and medications even though there is zero chance of any meaningful recovery.

        And just a reminder: DNR does not mean “do not treat.” You can have one in place for yourself without concern that they will just let you go untreated for your medical conditions. It only applies to events requiring resuscitation.

        1. Lily*

          “the living-far-away semi-estranged adult child who suddenly flies in and demands that their parent be kept on all the machines and medications even though there is zero chance of any meaningful recovery.”

          And this is why having an advance directive and a healthcare power of attorney is SO important!

            1. Boof*

              Health care proxy legally trumps advance directive. Health care proxy is the person who is supposed to carry out your wishes if you cannot state them. If there is no documented health care proxy, it generally goes to spouse, then down a line of relatives; medical teams have to reach and listen to the legal health care proxy and only if there is none can we do something like a two physician futility declaration.

            2. Boof*

              Physicians have to listen to the health care proxy above all else; hcp is usually family unless the patient documented someone else.

        2. Buffy will save us*

          As someone who works in SNFs frequently, I have seen some cases of people who broke my heart, including one elderly woman who’s POA niece “didn’t believe in the philosophy of hospice.” It was awful.

    5. Missb*

      Echoing this. I live in a state that already has legislation – “death with dignity”. Lots of safeguards in place, and I imagine that taking that step gives one a sense of peace and control.

      And all the best to you and your mom, Alison, as you navigate this part of your lives.

      1. Working with professionals*

        I’m sorry to hear about your Mom. There is great appreciation for knowing the time is limited so you can hold them closer, listen longer and laugh deeper; and such agony as the days race away. The greatest privilege and the greatest pain in life as you walk those last few miles with your Mom will sustain you in years to come.

    6. Artemesia*

      Bless her for waging this fight for all of us and glad she is able to avail herself when it is time. I am of this age — could be me tomorrow. I always thought I’d move to my son if I was in her situation as he lived in a death with dignity state. But he has died and so need plan B when the day comes.

      So sorry it has come to your family Alison; wish her peace and you.

    7. libellulebelle*

      What a painful situation for your family, I’m so sorry. I have written to my state legislators voicing my support for this legislation.

    8. SarahKay*

      I wish the UK gave people these rights too. I’m a good deal more bothered by the idea of a bad death than by the idea of death.
      Alison, I’m so sorry about your mom, and I hope her move to DC is as easy as possible.

  2. Observer*

    This is heart wrenching.

    There is not much to say, so I’m not going to try to be smart her.

    Just to say that we care.

      1. Anon this time*

        Omg, I missed that her mom’s name is Barbara!!

        My name is Allison and MY mom’s name is Barbara! (Insert crying emoji!)

  3. Suddenly_Seymour*

    Your admiration and love comes through so clearly. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. Thank you for raising awareness about this organization!

    1. Subtle Tuba*

      Exactly what I came here to say. My thoughts are with you, your mom, and your family, and today I have learned about an important legislative issue, thanks to the both of you.

    2. ferrina*

      Yes! Much love to Alison and her mom and her whole family; this post was so informative and heartfelt, and I really appreciate her raising awareness of this!

  4. Dragon_Tea_Smithy*

    My condolences about the short time you have left with your mom. I lost my Dad two years ago to pancreatic cancer as well. He lived for about three years after his stage IV diagnosis. I respect that you and your mother are working to expand bodily autonomy. I will write my representatives in North Carolina.

  5. ZSD*

    I’m sorry for all your mother is going through. Thank you for this informative post about an important topic I was ignorant of. And thank you to your mother for fighting for herself and others!

  6. Tricksie*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. Sending strength and comfort, for what it’s worth. Thank you for sharing with us–and I loved reading about your mom.

  7. germank106*

    I have no words right now, saying I’m sorry about your Mom just doesn’t seem to cut it. My Mom passed away from Cancer while living overseas. Programs like this are long established there.
    Her being able to die with dignity, on her own terms, gave us (and her) some peace of mind.

  8. Troy Morris*

    I am so sorry to read this. I lost my dad when he was far too young, also to pancreatic cancer and it was how learned how insidious and hidden it can be. You and your Mom have helped so many people in this world. My thoughts are with you and your family in this difficult time.

  9. Princess Deviant*

    Your mom sounds like an amazing, vibrant woman. I’m so sorry to hear about her illness. Wishing you and your family the best at this difficult time.

  10. Relentlessly Socratic*

    I am thinking of you, mom, and your family. Pancreatic cancer took my father, a dear family friend, and family of dear friends. I firmly support Medical Aid in Dying.

    Much love from an internet stranger.

  11. k bee*

    Sending lots of love. For you and the rest of the family, if you haven’t already it may be a good time to start looking for grief support. MAID where I am doesn’t have the strongest reputation for providing family support after death and from what I’ve heard it can be hard to find support from professionals and peers who “get it.”

    Please extend my thanks to your mother for her advocacy, and may you all find peace and comfort.

  12. Silver Robin*

    No surprise that someone as thoughtful and caring as you are has such a thoughtful and caring mom. What an important cause to fight for! People deserve to have their dignity and agency respected in all parts of life, including death. I am sorry to hear that her advocacy became so personal. I hope she, you, and all who love her are comforted and supported.

  13. Colleen*

    Thank you for raising this issue as it is incredibly important got people with a diagnosis like your mom’s as well as for their family members. I’m so sorry to hear this news about your mom. She sounds like an amazingly strong woman and a great role model. Peace to you both.

    1. NW hiker*

      I’m so sorry. I want to gently suggest looking into genetic screening (going thru this myself at the moment as my mom just found she has a particular mutation).

      We explored medical aid in dying for my father after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma years back but it was not available in our area at the time.

      I hope for peace and support for you all during this time.

  14. Tall Teapot*

    Pancreatic cancer f-ing sucks. I am sorry for the loss of time you planned to have with your mom and the time I’m sure she thought she would have left.
    I admire her activism –I wish she gets to decide on her terms how she departs this earth.

  15. Yakky*

    I’m so sorry about this diagnosis. Your mother sounds like a wonderful and dedicated person. I am sure that her advocacy work will not be in vain, and will one day help thousands of people to find more comfort in their last days.

  16. Lauren19*

    Allison I’m so sorry you and your mom are going through this. Lots of interwebs hugs to both of you, and I hope the time you have left with each other is on your own (her) terms.

  17. Cowwomaninhiding*

    Thank you for sharing something so personal. Your mom sounds like an amazing person. My heart goes out to you and I hope she is able to enjoy what time she has left as she fights the big C.

  18. RJ*

    Your mom is an awesome woman who has lived he life with passion and dignity. This is a great cause and thank you for bringing our attention to it. I am so sorry that her advocacy came through experience, but she has love and hopefully that will guide her through.

  19. Jenna Webster*

    I am so very sorry this is happening, and I am so glad you have such an amazing Mom, who also has such an amazing daughter. I never know what to say in these times, so I’m going to do instead, and reach out to my legislators and hope they will hear. Thank you for a concrete way to help, at least a little. Sending all good energy your way.

  20. LL*

    I am so very sorry to hear this. I lost my mother to the same illness this summer, also far too young, and far too quickly – we had just 6 weeks from diagnosis until her passing. It still remains as unfathomable as it was. My heart goes out to you, your mother and her family and friends.

  21. Selkie*

    I’m so sorry. I hope that, since she and you must face this painful moment, everything happens as your mom wishes it to happen. Please be as confident and fearless in accessing All the Support as you are in your answers to other people’s work problems.

  22. raincoaster*

    I’m so sorry your mom is going through this. So cruel that, on top of dealing with pancreatic cancer she has to move (the third most stressful event a person can experience in a normal life, according to studies).

  23. AppleStan*


    I truly don’t know what to say. I believe strongly that people should have the autonomy to make choices about their body and how they die, so I will be looking into this organization and sending a message to my legislator.

    Your mom sounds amazing, and I can only imagine how awesome your relationship is with her.

    I am sending continuous thoughts of peace and tranquility to you both.

  24. Josephine Beth*

    Thank you for sharing this with us, and for giving us a glimpse of the amazing woman your mom is. I’m so sorry that she will have to move to live the end of her life the way she wants and deserves, but I hope with time and the efforts of many people, those options will be open to more adults. The medical system in America often does a tragically terrible job of talking about death, and an even worse one of providing for a “good death”. I’m sending kindness and compassion to you and your family.

    1. Amy in NY*

      I’m piggybacking on this lovely message. Much nicer than I’d have come up with on my own. I have emailed my state representatives. And am sending kindness and compassion to you and your family.

  25. Laura*

    Thank you so much for letting us have this glimpse into your life, and the love within your family, Alison. What a testament to your mom’s life and values that you’re also spending the rest of her life fighting for what she believes in. Sending love.

  26. Another one L Alison*

    Knowing how awesome you are, I am not surprised at all to learn your mom too is very awesome. Thank you both for advocating for this issue.

    I hope you are both able to cherish and celebrate the time you have together to the fullest.

  27. glitter writer*

    I have nothing useful to say, really, but as a fellow Virginia resident I am ashamed of what our state government is doing here, and I am very sorry for what you and your mother are going through.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same, and I don’t know why the Commonwealth steadfastly insists on being on the wrong side of history so frequently. I will reach out to my undoubtedly shitty state representatives. It takes a really strong, special person to use the remaining time they have to lobby and advocate.

      I am so, so sorry for both you and your mom, Alison. And I’m even sorrier that she has to move on top of everything else, just to have autonomy over her own body and medical decisions.

  28. Hasha Fashasha*

    I will absolutely contact my legislators in Missouri. I lost my mom to metastatic lung cancer in 2020 and I miss her every single day. I’m an avid reader of your site and words can’t express my condolences to you and your mother. I’m glad she’ll be able to make the decision when it’s time, but it’s ridiculous that she has to move to do it. Positive vibes to you both.

  29. NewJobNewGal*

    Thank you for sharing something so deeply personal with us. I have been following you for years and you have changed my life for the better, and I hope you receive the same level of compassion and kindness that you have given to me.
    I hope you will keep us updated on how you are doing over the next months. I know I would understand if you need to take time away and re-run some old letters. I’ll be thinking of you, you mother, and your family.

  30. Sarah*

    I remember reading the linked post about your mom when it came out, and she sounded amazing then and now she sounds even more amazing. I am so sorry your family has to deal with this.

    I’m in Canada, and I know we have some form of medically assisted death although I don’t know the details. I do know a friend of my husband’s was able to use it when his ALS became unmanageable. He had family and friends over who were able to say goodbye and have one last beer together, and then the next day he went with his family surrounding him. It was sad and hard for my husband to lose a friend, but he was the type of guy who wanted to go on his own terms, and we were glad he had that option.

    I hope your mother gets the same option and that you and your family are able to find some peace.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      Canada has MAiD with some of the most lax conditions of any country. It’s near the point where it’s gone too far the other way — some people with disabilities are finding it’s easier to apply for MAiD than it is to get the actual supports they need to live (So they’re applying, or considering applying, because they can’t get housing, not because they no longer want to live with their disability.)

      In the meantime, I recently lost a relative who chose MAiD over palliative care that just wasn’t palliative enough, and I absolutely think that it was right that she had that choice to make, rather than dying in a few more weeks in pure misery. (It also meant her elder child, who lives in another country could make concrete plans and be there instead of shuttling back and forth or waiting for the news.)

      1. Dawn*

        And this is the problem; I supported MAID but it has been badly, BADLY misapplied here, and the legislation needs to be revisited.

        1. Mid*

          I wouldn’t say that it’s been misapplied, as much as there are critical failures in the system that leaves people feeling (and often knowing) that death is more achievable than housing. That’s not on MAiD at all, that’s on broader lack of social supports.

          1. Dawn*

            That’s true too, but there are also not only few to no protections against disabled people feeling pressured to take this as the only option, there have been allegations of exactly that happening in certain jurisdictions.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I can’t speak to the Canadian law, but in the U.S. doctors need to attest that you have a terminal diagnosis with less than six months left (so the law here doesn’t apply to disabled people at all unless they are also terminally ill with little time remaining).

              1. Dawn*

                I think there’s probably grounds to expand the American version – Terry Pratchett, who was possibly the biggest MAID proponent who ever lived, accepted it for his early-onset Alzheimer’s – but I’m glad at least that there are safeguards against what has been happening here recently.

                And as I’m replying to you directly now, I’m so sorry about your mom.

        2. anone*

          I opposed MAiD here because of what many many disabled people were saying about the specific way MAiD was being enacted and the additional provisions that were being brought in to expand it without addressing the other issues. And all of the predictions that my friends were screaming about at the tops of their lungs in early 2021 when it was before the House have been coming true. It went from being about self-determination and dignity to eugenics and social murder. Even the UN has spoken up critically about how we’ve enacted this policy.

          I am a supporter of assisted death or autonomy over end-of-life care. I think this kind of legislation is much stronger and much more likely to produce both dignity in life AND death if a much wider range of disabled people are listened to in the design of it. So please please please support this legislation where you are with that in mind and amplifying the voices of *everyone* who needs to be heard. (Here, a select subset of disabled people were held above all other disabled people as justification for the legislation, and every disabled person who spoke about their concerns was dismissed. The senate hearing was a travesty.) Don’t follow Canada’s lead.

          I’m so sorry about your mom, Alison.

  31. Underemployed Erin*

    Oh, Alison, I am so sorry that your mom got such a serious diagnosis.

    In 2021, my younger sister was diagnosed with a major cancer. It completely blindsided me. 70-80% of the people with her cancer at the stage hers was in die within five years.

    She has beaten the odds so far, and your family will be in my thoughts.

  32. sswj*

    I live in South Carolina. I will get involved – it really is vital.

    My heartfelt sympathy to your mom, to you, and to those who love you and her. It’s just so goddamned unfair :(

  33. Amanda*

    Thanks for raising this important issue. I am lucky to live in a state that has already legalized this.
    I wanted to say that I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis. Your description sounds similar to my reaction when we find out my mom had terminal brain cancer. She was in her early 70s but seemed younger – always healthy and full of life. Her dad lived past 100. I thought I had at least 20 years left with her. She died a little over a year later. I miss her every day. I am keeping you and your mom in my thoughts.

  34. New Senior Mgr*

    My heart dropped to my feet. Yes yes of course I will. My aunt passed from this cancer last year. Sending much love and strength for the whole family. ♥️

  35. ProducerNYC*

    Alison, I’m so, so sorry. What a fierce force your mother is, no doubt a main reason why you are such a force for goodness and kindness yourself. Thank you for sharing with us, and for educating us on this important topic. We all deserve to live– and end– life on our terms, even when dealt such a devastating blow as this diagnosis. You are both people who make this world better just by being yourselves. Sending you love.

  36. Rob*

    Thank you for this. Perhaps the toughest thing you ever wrote here, but hopefully this moves the needle enough to help other people.

  37. squeakrad*

    I am so so sorry to hear this and I’ve followed your path with this on Twitter. This is one of the most horrible outcomes I can imagine and I’m sending you and your mom and your whole family light and love and strength for this process. You are both an inspiration to us personally.

  38. Jayne not Jane*

    This is amazing thing your Mom is doing for herself and others. I am so incredibly sorry for you and your family. Sending you love and light.

  39. Meena*

    Messages sent. Thank you for bringing attention to this important matter. Much love to you and your mom.

  40. Anon for this*

    I am so sorry for your family. I know what this struggle feels like, and I wouldn’t wish it for anyone.

    My father was diagnosed with leukemia in 2020. 4 days after the diagnosis, when he was given 4-6 weeks to live, he begged for euthanasia. My giant of a father was reduced to nothing but pain, and since we didn’t live in one of those states above, we couldn’t do anything. The next day he was transferred to hospice, where they expected him to stay for roughly a week. Less than 24 hours later, he was gone, just a week after going to have his shortness of breath checked out.

    My dad had an issue with metabolizing painkillers. It took such a high dose to make any difference in his pain levels that he rarely took them. Separately and privately, my mother and I both came to the conclusion that in an effort to make him comfortable over the course of several hours, the hospice had probably inadvertently given him an overdose. Separately and privately, we both were relieved. When we finally discussed this more than a year later, we agreed the only change in outcome was less pain and that we absolutely did not want to let anyone in authority know what had happened.

    My best wishes to you and your family in this terrible time, I hope you find peace.

    1. Becca*

      In the UK we unfortunately don’t have legal medically assisted death but we do have a concept known as the principal of double effect. I’m not sure if it applies in US healthcare.

      Medications and treatment can be given that might harm the patient as long as the *main reason for giving them* is to benefit the patient and the benefits outweigh the harms. So in a case like your father’s the medical team might be aware that giving the full dose of morphine needed to control the pain might risk suppressing his breathing, they are still allowed to go ahead as long as the aim is to control the pain. They can’t deliberately prescribe with the intention of hastening death but if their intention is to relieve pain and death happens as a side effect it’s OK.

      Clearly the benefits outweighing the harm is very important, this would not be acceptable for a patient in pain but expected to fully recover or to give much higher doses than are genuinely required to relieve the pain.

      The advice here would be to discuss with the patient if they are alert enough and the family so it may not have been a choice in your father’s particular case. I fully agree with you and your mother, far better to relieve the terrible pain than keep the person alive in agony for a few more days,

      I’m glad your father passed peacefully and I’m sorry for your loss.

  41. I AM a Lawyer*

    I’m so sorry, Alison. I lost my mom at age 71 less than two years ago from Alzheimer’s that advanced rapidly. I felt my mom, in her way, made a choice to let go and that everyone should have that option. Your mom sounds amazing.

  42. Marie*

    I am so sorry about your Mom.

    I have been closely involved in the care and end of life of three people, my mother-in-law, my father and my mother. Of those three my father chose Death with Dignity, which is legal in our state. It has to be a personal choice, but of those three my father’s death is the one I would choose.

    I now have stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I’m giving chemo a try, but you can bet that I will be making use of the Death with Dignity option when the time comes. I am so grateful that it is available in our state!

    I have been donating to the Death with Dignity cause for years and strongly believe that we have the right to choose to die. There are limitations to the current laws, especially around the area of dementia and work needs to be done in that area.

  43. Danish*

    I’m so sorry. I’m very thankful to your mother for the work she’s done; having to slowly die in pain has been a thing that keeps me awake at night for much longer than is reasonable for my age. It’s shameful that there are still so many places where it’s not legal.

    Best thoughts for you and her.

  44. Me (I think)*

    I am so sorry about your mom. I went through this with my dad, and it was awful. I’ll be thinking about you.

    1. Me (I think)*

      (edited to add: he died of melanoma that had spread before they found it. There was no medical aid in dying. It was awful.)

  45. ICodeForFood*

    Oh, Allison, I’m so sorry to hear this… thanks to your mom (and now you) for your work on behalf of Medical Aid in Dying.

  46. Aggretsuko*

    So sorry to hear about your mom.

    I am in favor of this and I hope it’s available when my time comes (I note that degenerative disease runs rampant in my gene pool). However, I have read that in my state it’s not exactly as easy to use as it supposedly is, like I still might have to go to another state if things don’t improve :/

  47. Amber*

    Bless her for using her remaining time to try to enact change! I wish the laws would expand to people over a certain age. My grandfather is 91. He’s in pain every day. He falls often. He’s lonely, but difficulty hearing and bouts of brain fog make socialization difficult. He just wants it to be over. Without any specific terminal illness, he doesn’t have the option to choose his own end. He just has to suffer till his body quits.

  48. Jamjari*

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’m sorry to hear about your mom, and sorry that she has to leave her home to die with dignity. My mom is a candidate for medical assistance in dying (legal in Canada) because of her cancer. We hope she has a long while yet, but it’s comforting to me to know it’s an option if the pain becomes too much. And I think she appreciates the idea, at that time, that she can plan her passing and have her spread out family around her.

  49. Beth*

    I’m so sorry about your mom, who is a rock star. No surprise that such an amazing and wonderful woman has such an amazing and wonderful daughter.

    I’m in Florida, where there will be skating parties on infernal lava before we ever get any compassionate legislation or government.

    We’re on the final countdown to retirement, when we will flee this state and go some place where we have a hope of making effective and positive change.

    1. 2023, You are NOT Nice.*

      Florida too. I have to agree, about the lava. We are fast reversing every gain for social good.

      Alison, I am so sorry about your mother.

  50. High Score!*

    I’m so sorry about your mom.
    People who want to die, regardless of diagnosis, should be allowed to die on their own terms with dignity.

  51. Eve Polastri*

    I am so sorry :-(. Thank you for sharing this personal information for 2 reasons. 1) The right to die on our own terms is only human. Society accepts that when our pets are ill, we are being humane by euthanizing them but for some reason, we don’t provide this dignity to humans. and 2) Letting us know what symptoms she had. It just might save another life.

  52. urban teacher*

    I am so sorry. My mom also died of pancreatic cancer but we worked to allow her to die on her terms. It makes a huge difference.

  53. cheesyeggs*

    I’m so sorry. Your mom sounds like a wonderful gal, full of life and light. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you both peace.

  54. Susannah*

    Oh, Alison. I’m so, so sorry about your mom. How truly awful and terribly unfair.
    I admire her (and your) work for dying with dignity.

  55. HonorBox*

    Your mom sounds like an amazing person, and I really appreciate you sharing this about her. First, because it gave me an issue to support … one that, fortunately, I hadn’t really had the need to give much thought to. But second because it gave me an opportunity to hear about a really cool person who is fighting for herself and others and whose actions will be incredibly helpful to so many. I’m sending you both very positive energy and support.

  56. Agile Phalanges*

    I’m so sorry about your mom, Alison. I agree about the sentiments about death with dignity, and am glad to live in Oregon. I hope you are able to spend quality time together, and that she is able to transition to whatever’s next on her own terms. What an awful way to have such a cause become so personal, though.

  57. MourningStar*

    I’m so incredibly sorry to hear about your wrenching change in your life. I was orphaned suddenly and I still find days where I’m confused as to where I ‘lost’ my parents.
    It’s a horrific journey, both that of a parent dying, and that of the child living on.
    May her joyous life be a blessing to you and all who she has (and will continue!) to touch with her vibrant spirit. I hope her end of life is one of peace.

  58. Parent T*

    I’m sorry about your mom.

    I live in Canada where MAID has been legal for several years, with varying changes to eligibility (including some heavily debated).

    I was present a few years ago when an older family friend opted for MAID. She was in a lot of pain and didn’t want to suffer. So she invited friends and family over to her apartment for one last gathering. When she was ready, the doctor arrived. Many of those present then accompanied her to her bedroom, where she lay down and received the medications. As she passed, those assembled broke into a song so as to sing her home.

    It was beautiful, heartbreaking and difficult. But it was her life and her death. I’m so glad she had the choice.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Glennon Doyle uses the term “Brutiful” to describe so many parts of our lives. And if your story doesn’t fit the bill, I don’t know what does.

  59. anonymous 5*

    oh dear. Internet hugs if you want them, and all the wishes for peace and comfort to you, to your mom, and to your network of family and friends.

  60. Imapirate15*

    I’m so sorry about your mom’s diagnosis. My mom passed unexpectedly from a stroke last year after a lifetime of health and no issues. When we love someone, it’s never enough time.
    The right to die with dignity is so important. One thing my family was all on the same page was not prolonging life through artificial means. We didn’t want the one we loved to suffer a second longer than was necessary. Often times as people are dying it is super painful and my mom lost the ability to communicate weeks before she passed but would scream in pain when they had to adjust her. The right to choose medical decisions for our own person is so so important.
    Cherish the time you have left with your mom and let her know she’s got a lot of nice internet people thinking of her.

  61. Hills to Die on*

    I am so sorry. I am in Colorado so it’s good to know we have that option here.
    Your mom sounds like an amazing person. I wish you comfort and peace as you go through this.

  62. Jenna*

    Allison and A’s Mom,
    Thank you for sharing this. This topic is close to my heart-my best friend’s amazing Dad passed away from pancreatic cancer and it was awful for him and the family to watch. Adults being able to pass with dignity and control (not to mention, given the cost of healthcare in this country if they want to be able to leave their loved ones/charity of choice with funds rather then just fund our broken healthcare system…but I digress).

    I live in Washington State, but will thank my lawmakers and do what I can to raise attention to this issue. Much love and appreciation for all you do.

  63. LF*

    I’m so, so sorry. I just read your “some things about my mom” piece, and was struck by how amazing a person and parent she is, and how much that seems to have trickled down. Thank you for using this incredibly difficult moment to advocate for her and others like her. I had no idea DC was included (my mother also has terminal cancer, and lives in DC — I had no clue she had this option available to her when and if the time came that she’d be interested in learning more about it). Thanks for always giving us helpful info, even in non-work posts. Much love and strength and peace to your wonderful mother.

  64. The Rural Juror*

    This hits close to home – I’ve witnessed just how tough pancreatic cancer can be. Thank to your mom for advocating for herself and others. Thank you to you for sharing the story and the education.

    I’d like to add to what Eve Polastri said above – sharing the symptoms is important. For my friend who had pancreatic cancer, it was a backache that wouldn’t go away. She thought she had a kidney infection. It’s crucial to catch that one early, so listen to your body and please don’t be afraid to seek healthcare.

  65. Data Nerd*

    I’m so dreadfully sorry that you and your mom are going through this pain. My mom is also a cancer patient and for complicated family reasons, will not exercise the right that I hope she will have in New York soon. I will be lobbying for her to have that right though, as it should be a decision that she gets to make. I wish your mom peace and relief from suffering.

  66. Plebeian Aristocracy*

    I’m sorry that you and your mother are going through this. Thank you for trusting us as a community to share.

    Many years ago, we had a classroom debate about the issue (I live in a state that allows it). At the time, I was neutral on the issue. I could see both sides, and didn’t really feel like I needed to take a stand. Then, a few years ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. It had spread throughout his body. I was never given the full details–and won’t go into any more–but I do know that he elected for Medical Aid in Dying.

    Because of my grandfather’s decision, he got to choose his time of death. The whole family was able to come for one final visit to say goodbye, and he was able to pass on peacefully at home, with my grandmother by his side. The amount of dignity it offers the patient is immense, and watching the process on a personal level has turned me into an advocate.

    I hope, when it is time, that the process is as beautiful for you as it was for me. And I hope that more legislatures allow it in more states.

    1. oranges*

      I wish everyone who makes policy decisions about MAiD could witness it first hand, because the dignity and peace and autonomy is something everyone deserves.

  67. lurkyloo*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom and so heartened by her strength.
    I once met a woman who was inordinately cheerful in the face of a challenging customer service situation and commented on it to her. She happily looked at me and said ‘I’m dying. I have no time to be upset!’ Two months later, I (in Canada and pre-MAID) read about a woman to travelled to Switzerland to access MAID. And it was her. Your mom sounds like her. And I love your mom already.

  68. Snoopy Clifton*

    From your internet family – sending hugs and love to your mom, you and the rest of your family. Thank you for sharing this lovely tribute to a remarkable lady. Best wishes to all of you and f*** cancer.

  69. hayling*

    Thank you for sharing your story, Alison. I also believe in people Medical Aid in Dying – although I didn’t know that term for it. Sending virtual hugs to you and your mom.

  70. Onward*

    I have no words, Alison. This is so heartbreaking for you and your mom. What an incredible woman she is in continuing to fight for this — it is everyone’s right to choose what happens to their own bodies, including when that body is dying.

  71. Eether Eyether*

    Alison, I am so, so sorry to hear this. I agree 100% with what your mom is doing. We all should have the choice, at the very least even if we do not follow through. I lost my mom 10 years ago and I miss her every single day. Sending lots of love to you and your mom. Please know that you can reach out to us anytime.

  72. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    I’m so sorry to hear this. I strongly support autonomy over one’s own body, and I’m glad people like your mom have been fighting for it. I’m sorry she has to relocate in order to get it for herself.

  73. Endorable*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. I’m very glad that MAID is available in Canada. My cousin’s husband recently passed and he was able to do it surrounded by his loved ones, all goodbyes were said, no lingering suffering. It’s a blessing to be able choose your time to go.

  74. Space Lasers*

    I’m so sorry your mother has this horrible diagnosis and that you are all being forced to deal with onerous legal roadblocks in order for her to have a dignified end of life. I wish for her to have the end of life that she is able to choose for herself, surrounded by love and with as little suffering as possible.

  75. Kali*

    I’m sorry about your mom’s diagnosis. She sounds so awesome. It’s infuriating that she has to move in order to die on her own terms. I hope that her wishes are realized across the nation someday soon, and I hope y’all have peace and comfort during this time.

  76. Elizabeth West*

    Damn! I’m so sorry, Alison. I wish peace and comfort for your lovely mom, and lots of love to you and your family.

  77. Louisa*

    I have never left a comment before, I lurk a lot and have followed your blog for years.

    I’m sorry to hear that your mom and your family are going through this. She sounds like an amazing person and so do you.

  78. WantonSeedStitch*

    Alison, my heart goes out to you and your family. Your mother sounds like an admirable and delightful woman, and I applaud her for fighting this fight for a cause that I support as well. I’ve used the link you provided to contact my elected officials, and hope others will do the same.

  79. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    Alison, I’m so sorry to hear this. Your mom is truly a remarkable person. I will keep you and yours in my thoughts.

  80. Anita Brake*

    Your mom is amazing! What a legacy she will leave for others who will benefit from her work. Plus she raised you, another amazing legacy who advocates for America’s worker bees. Your mom will join you in leaving a lasting, liberating mark on humanity. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

  81. Festively Dressed Earl*

    To misquote Pooh Bear, how lucky you are to have someone that makes it so hard to say goodbye. I’m so sorry, Alison. As for our state legislature, they don’t seem to listen to us but I’ll try.

  82. Kindred Spirit*

    I’m so sorry that your mom is dealing with this. Everyone should have the right to make their own end-of-life choices. We have a long way to go to achieve truly compassionate care in this country.

  83. Sharkie*

    Oh Alison, I am so sorry you and your family are going through this. Your mom sounds like an amazing women.

  84. Lalitah92*

    I’m more sorry than I can say. Words are poor to convey the warmth and support you and your family, especially your mother, need at this time. I wish that you all are surrounded with the support that you need. For your mother: may your wish for dignity be fulfilled. Warm hugs from me to you both.

  85. Pom Mom*

    Reading this at chemo. Heavy sigh. Hang in there. Admire your mom for her stance. ❤ Prayers and good thoughts sound trite, but are truly meant.

  86. RWM*

    Your mom sounds really special, Alison. I’m so sorry she—and you—are going into this, and I’ll definitely be digging into the links to learn more about Medical Aid in Dying/supporting the cause. Keeping you both in my thoughts. <3

  87. Ex consultant*

    I’m so sorry. Good for your mother, standing up for her rights. Everybody should have that choice.

  88. JSPA*

    My mom was a donor since the early days, when the precursor to C&C was the Hemlock Society. We grew up knowing that this was her core belief. She ended up failing fast (and in hospital) for what had appeared to be a serious but eminently treatable acute illness, such that all the preparations were (largely) for naught, except in terms of removing life support.

    Three important notes:

    1. Make sure your health care power of attorney / advanced directive / living will has strong yet open ended* language that will allow you to be transported out of a state (or country) where the procedures in question are illegal, to ones where they are legal.

    Why avoid stating the goal as part of the transfer wording? Some doctors and hospitals have successfully barred transfer BECAUSE they could point at the goal as part of the “medically unacceptable risk” of the transfer.

    2. Make sure any procured meds are well- secured, with appropriate warnings.

    3. Becoming resident for these Purposes can involve a waiting…and does generally involve a change in tax status (and voter registration, and car registration etc etc) as you’re tax-resident in the new location. Make your will with that in mind; and also, work it into your plan for the remaining living that you hope to do.

    All sympathy to all who are facing the dual misery of death, and of bad policy forcing them and their family to do paperwork, when in a just and reasonable world, they could focus on anything but that.

    *This has to be balanced against the risk of giving essentially unlimited ability to make your decisions for you, to a designated person. One’s otherwise-trustworthy and level- headed kids are not always open to accepting an largely- unknown-to-them romantic partner, for example.

    Disclaimer: still not a lawyer, nor a CPA, nor a financial planner.

    1. Contracts Killer*

      Excellent advice that I will incorporate into my documents. Alison, I’m so sorry for your family. I will be reaching out to my legislators to hopefully bring this law to my state.

  89. JustMe2*

    Alison, my heart is with amazing you and your phenomenal mom.

    I hate that she has to move.

    My dad succumbed to Stage IV pancreatic cancer after 4 weeks.

  90. GA*

    My mom also had pancreatic cancer – adenocarcinoma. It was about 18 months from diagnosis to death. Her liver was also affected. She was 64. It was hard on her the whole time and she didn’t have many choices along the way. I’m glad that her body went to medical science to hopefully help treatment for people like your mom. My mom actually looked a bit like your mom. I’m sorry that you and your family and her friends are going through this. It’s hard and there’s no way around that. Wishing you all peace and grace through this transition.

    I will advocate for my state to pass this legislation. We need more choices in our healthcare.

    1. Rinn*

      Sending love from Maryland. We’re usually toward the top of the list on issues like this, so I will definitely be monitoring our progress and contacting our representatives. Thank you for sharing your mom’s story.

  91. I remain. . . Anatole*

    I’m so so sorry for you and your mother. Thank her for her efforts; thank you for reporting them.

  92. Anonymous Elephant*

    I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s prognosis. Wishing you and your family peace as you grieve.

    I think your mother is a wonderful person to fight so hard for others’ dignity, and now that it is her own dignity at stake, I wish state legislators would focus on the importance of a Medical Aid in Dying statute. I hope your mother’s impact is felt on the legislature for years to come.

  93. Caroline*

    I’m so desperately sorry to hear of this. I am a massive believer in assisted dying / euthanasia and believe it should 10000% be an option in situations similar to this one. I know all the ”but what about” arguments, and do appreciate there are a lot of considerations to weigh up legally, but it makes total sense and I hope your mom’s efforts bear reward soon.

    I hope that something miraculous may yet happen, and in the event that it doesn’t, that your mom exceeds every expectation and has the happiest, least-painful, least-upsetting end of life possible.

  94. msVal*

    I’m so sorry for you–on so many levels I understand how you feel about being blindsided by a horrific diagnosis for your truly youthful Mom–I lost my Mom under similar circumstances. Thank you for raising awareness of Medical Aid in Dying (I was unaware of this org)–it’s infuriating the lengths we must go to for autonomy over our bodies. Sincerely hoping you all can find peace, eventually.

  95. 30 Years in the Biz*

    I’m so sorry for your mom and family. Thank you for including the stories about your mom and her advocacy. She sounds like an amazing person! I’m hopeful that all US states will recognize that a compassionate choice at the end of life is an option that should be available to all.

  96. Lavender*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis. I just read your “Some Things About My Mom” post (I’d read it when it was first published, but had forgotten most of the details) and she sounds kind and loving but also funny, creative, and strong-willed. The best kind of mom to have, in my opinion.

    A close family member of mine had pancreatic cancer several years ago, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s a horrible, heartbreaking disease. I hope your mom is able to navigate things on her own terms, in whatever way is best for her.

    I don’t live in the US anymore, and MAiD is already legal in the state where I’m from, but I hope everyone reading this who is able to contact their legislators does so. Peace, dignity, and agency in end-of-life care is a right everyone should have.

    You, your mom, and the rest of your family will be in my thoughts.

  97. animaniactoo*

    I’m so sorry to hear this news. Sending hugs (if you would like to accept them) and mojo for the best outcome within what is possible to happen.

    And yes, I will message my state reps and lobby for this bit of grace and human dignity.

  98. Mandie*

    I’m so sorry about your mom, and I hope she is empowered and pain-free when the time comes.

    Side note to your readers: my mom also suffered persistent, head-to-toe itching for months prior to a cancer diagnosis (Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Her doctor took a very long time trying various allergy meds and other treatments before testing her for cancer, which just postponed her diagnosis. She was stage 3 by the time she was diagnosed. Fortunately, she’s OK and has been in remission for over a decade.

    Before that, I had no idea this could be a symptom of cancer. Anyone who experiences mysterious, persistent itching/rash should advocate for themselves and not allow doctors to dismiss it.

    1. I have RBF*

      Another sign is having bones break for no reason. My dad passed from angiosarcoma. They failed to diagnose him until it was too late, just saying that his random pains, broken tailbone, etc were part of getting old. I’m still salty over that fact. He went from diagnosis to dead in under a month.

  99. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

    I am so sorry Alison. I lost my dad and mother-in-law to pancreatic cancer. Dad passed in June 2020, one month after his diagnosis. My mother-in-law lived 17 months after hers. It’s a terrible way to go, and people with it or other terminal illnesses should have the choice not to suffer.

  100. gbw*

    It has always seemed weird to me that we can provide this type of relief for our pets but not for ourselves. My heart is breaking for all of you.

  101. Quality Girl*

    I am so sorry. One of my parents is also terminally ill. I live in a state where MAID is legal and my parent lives in one where it is not. However their disease leaves them unable to consent as it affects their cognition, so there is still nothing we can do. It’s so hard to watch. I’m sorry your mom has to uproot her life at this time in her life but I am also glad she is able to have that control for herself.

  102. Thomas Merton*

    I am so sorry for your mom and your family. People deserve to control their exit, and it’s a cause for some hope that this is now at least a possibility, if not yet universally available. As opposed to thirty years ago, when my brother was dying agonizingly from leukemia, and basically passed away after too much suffering from an overdose of morphine finally tacitly administered by his doctors.

  103. YM*

    As my very Irish grandmother would say about people she held in high regard: “She’s a credit to her mother”. I’m so sorry you’re family is being faced with this, and I’m wishing your soul comfort as you navigate this and fight the good fight.

  104. Natalie*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. I hope she is able to live out her remaining time with joy and peace, surrounded by family, until she decides that she’s done. It’s her body, her life, and her decision.

    Pancreas-related diseases are poorly understood even now. I know this because I survived necrotizing pancreatitis 4 years ago. I wouldn’t wish a disease of the pancreas on even my worst enemy–it’s brutal and painful and gross.

  105. JanetM*

    I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s diagnosis. Making people suffer (the legislature) is simply evil. I hope for strength, courage, and support as she – and you – deal with this trauma.

  106. learnedthehardway*

    May your Mom find peace and comfort, and the resources she needs. My sincere wishes for strength and comfort for you and your family.

  107. Mellie Bellie*

    I reached out to my state legislators and donated to C&C. My mom passed in November and I am so sorry you and your mom are going through this. I read something by Carolyn Hax this morning that said “If these words could hug you, they would.” I thought it was beautiful and I am sharing it now.

  108. Lil Grasshopper*

    I’m so sorry to hear this news Alison. Wishing you the best as you go through this journey with your mom. We just got a terminal cancer diagnosis for my dad last week so I can understand. Access to MAID is so important. Death with dignity is something I wish everyone could count on. It is very hard to watch a loved one suffer

  109. Robin Ellacott*

    I’m so sorry that this happened and that your mom needs to fight for her own dignity and autonomy. The universe is horribly unjust sometimes. I have huge respect for those working to at least make the system less unjust where we can influence it.

    MAiD is legal here (BC, Canada) and is part of our health care, but we had a big problem with a religious organization that took over the local hospice and tried to stop providing this service. They largely lost that fight, but I and the community fought hard and will do so again – the religious organization is still trying to fight it in court.

    Thinking of you and your family. It sounds like anyone going up against your mom is in for a big reckoning.

  110. MrsMollyWeasley*

    I am so sorry your mom and your family are going through this. I hope the coming weeks bring all of you peace and as much comfort as possible.

  111. Redwinemom*

    Your mom is an amazing woman. Like so many of her and your friends – I know I would enjoy being part of her pack of friends.
    This is certainly a difficult time in her life. Please let her know that I, and so many others from this site, have communicated with my representatives in support of Medical Aid in Dying. I’ll watch closely in my in state of New York regarding this legislation.

  112. Storm in a teacup*

    I’m sorry about your mum Alison and so inspirational what she is doing. She sounds amazing – especially the sympathy card!
    I wish we had a similar law here in the UK.
    I have a friend who is in a similar situation to your mum and lives in one of the states looking to introduce this bill. I hope for her sake it’s bought in soon as it’s a choice she wants available also.

    1. Foxgloves*

      Here in the UK, the campaign group Dignity in Dying have a lot of useful resources around this issue, including templates to send to your MP. I’ll add a link to their site in a follow on comment. Alison, I’m so sorry about your mum.

  113. Redwinemom*

    Your mom is an amazing woman. Like so many of her and your friends – I know I would enjoy being part of her pack of friends.
    This is certainly a difficult time in her life. Please let her know that I, and so many others from this site, have communicated with our representatives in support of Medical Aid in Dying. I’ll watch closely in my in state of New York regarding this legislation.
    I am sending my love and good karma that she has limited pain and an easy passing when her time comes.

  114. Cristina*

    Alison, I’m very sorry your mom and your family are going through this. I’m grateful to her for what she’s doing and wish you all peace and comfort during such difficult times.

  115. Llama Zoomer*

    Oof. From yet another member of the “my parent died of pancreatic cancer” club, I am so sorry that you and your family have to go through this. This isn’t a club any of us wanted to be a part of.

    As someone said above, thank you for taking the time to champion such important change. While my dad did not live in a country that allowed death with dignity, we were fortunate that he thought a lot about it in advance and made sure to communicate his wishes very clearly (including a formally-filed advanced directive document that was very detailed). By the time the cancer was diagnosed, he was not really coherent or able to communicate (thanks, COVID lock-downs) – I cannot imagine having to decide on my own whether to try invasive treatment or let him pass in peace and without pain.

    Cherish your time together.

  116. Presea*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. I hope she will be able to continue to live and die on her own terms, and I am so sorry that she’s being forced to move in this twilight of her life while ill. It’s wonderful of you to use your platform to raise awareness about MAiD laws in the US like this. But then, that’s just the sorts of people you both are.

    Best wishes for you both in the coming days. When the time comes, may your mother’s memory become a blessing and a revolution.

  117. Single Parent Barbie*

    I have always wondered why is it considered to be humane to put our pets down, but not our parents?

    Kudos to your mom for making every moment of her life matter.

    Grief sucks btw. no matter how much time you think you prepare yourself. I was interviewing internally for a role and the director and I hit it off as we have lived in similar spots. She asked where my parents lived now and I told her they were both gone. She said I was too young to be an orphan and it hit hard. It just becomes a part of you.

  118. RunShaker*

    I’m trying not to cry at work….. my mom is having surgery tomorrow due to breast cancer so I guess with that stress and reading about your mom brought on the tears. My hubby (currently healthy but crappy family medical history) has also said he doesn’t want any type of life extending treatment if/when it happens. The joke as been I’ll trip on life support plug. But living in Texas in current climate, I’m not hopeful. I think the plan will be to “visit” my sister in Oregon if it ever comes to that.
    I’m so sad to hear about your mom.


    I am just so deeply and indescribably sorry that your mother, you and your family are going through this.

  120. Dona Florinda*

    I’m so sorry. My own mom passed away only two months after her cancer diagnosis.

    Sending you both lots of love.

  121. MackM*

    I am so sorry to hear this. I can see your firm humanism and commitment to advocacy are a family tradition. Peace, love and much respect to you and yours!

  122. Jennifer Strange*

    I am so sorry. This is a horrible thing to have to go through, both for your mother as well as your loved ones. Everyone deserves the right to die with dignity, and I am inspired by her continued fight. Regardless of how things go from here, I have no doubt she has made an impact, even if it takes time for it to be seen.

  123. desiree*

    i think the amount of money spent in the US keeping terminally ill patients alive is absurd and yet mention something like MAiD, which would allow patients to die with dignity and on their own terms, and people are shocked.

    1. WellRed*

      The US really needs to learn to deal with death in a more clear eyed, humane way. That especially includes the medical profession. It also unfortunately includes politicians. I’m sorry Alison but as a poster said above, you’re a credit to your mother.

  124. Three Pandemic Kids*

    I am so, so sorry that you and your family are going through this, and am also utterly in awe of you and your mother for continuing to fight for this right during such an incredibly trying time for you.

  125. Plain Jane*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. My father-in-law was able to die with dignity, on his own terms, with his children and wife beside him after a lovely day of laughing and talking and crying. We can all only hope to be that lucky.

  126. Sunny days are better*

    So happy that this law exists in Canada for just these types of situations.

    I’m so sorry for you, your mom, and your family.

  127. Truthiness*

    Just contacted my state representatives through the link you shared. Sending you and your family all of the love.

  128. Free Meerkats*

    That itching is the same thing that sent my neighbor to the doctor. He’s been dealing with the pancreatic cancer for about 2 years now; stopped treatment about a year ago.

    I’m sorry to hear about your Mom. From a decade of caregiving with my first wife, I can offer one bit of advice. Take care of yourself first; then others around you.

  129. Sara M*

    I’m sorry to hear about your mom. And just when she needs that prescription, her state forbids it and she has to move. That’s terrible and I wish she could just stay where she’s comfortable and happy.

    Much love to you and your family. As you care for her and help her, please remember to take care of yourself too. Call on your friends and support network as needed.

    I’ll be thinking of you. <3

  130. KatoPotato*

    I am so sorry to hear this. What an incredible act of generosity from your mother to devote your precious time to this advocacy– she seems like an amazing person and mother.

    And for anyone reading, you should definitely click through to the linked article about things about Alison’s mom. The story about sending the card to Alison’s boyfriend at 26 is SO FUNNY!!

  131. MMS*

    Thank you for sharing this, and I’m so sorry that your mother and your family has to take this on.

    I worked for an organization in Oregon that supported people pursuing medical aid in dying, and some of the calls I got from clients are still so vivid for me. I’m thinking of you and your mom and your family as you navigate this.

  132. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Sending lots of love and support to you, Alison, and your whole family and you continue to navigate this devastating situation.

  133. Anonfortoday*

    *trigger warning for, ah, everything *
    An acquaintance, a fascinating and thoughtful person, suffered from a severe and incurable progressive illness. Medical assistance in dying was not available here at the time (is now). When it became too much, he hanged himself, badly, alone in his garage. I wish he had been able to gather his loved ones, take a pill, and go to sleep. Sharing in case it changes anyone’s mind.

    1. Pennyworth*

      My BIL would have done something similar if he had not been physically incapacitated. He spent his last weeks in hospital whimpering with pain that nothing would stop, asking to die. No-one deserves to die like that.

    2. Sylvan*

      I’m so sorry. Two of my family members, in a state where euthanasia is illegal, shot themselves. I wish so many things about their pain management and end-of-life health care had been different, including the legality of euthanasia. Animals are treated with more compassion.

  134. Silicon Valley Purgatory*

    Alison, I am so very sorry about your mother. I lost my healthy, vibrant, she-can’t-possibly-be-the-age-she-is mom nine years and two months ago, far too young. Please know that the heartfelt message you have sent today will help countless people — I am going to act on this post and pass it to many others, as I’m sure is the case for so many of your readers. Your mother’s work will continue after she has gone. The world will be better for her having existed. I have a concrete suggestion that may sound weird, but: consider recording her voice, or taking little videos if that feels natural to you both. I didn’t do that and I really wish I did…but we continue to pay for her phone number so that the family can call her voice mail and hear her outgoing message. It might sound stupid, but being able to access even that brief, mundane instruction to leave a message has been a huge comfort. I cherished her and did everything everyone said to keep the memory of her alive and that is all very well, but sometimes there is just no substitute for hearing a mother’s voice.

    1. Mellie Bellie*

      Oh, yes, this. Also, if you don’t have your closest loved ones’ texts set to save forever somewhere, I’d urge you to change it now. After my mom passed, I realized I have all of our texts going back to at least 2014-2015. Mom wasn’t a big phone talker, but was a prolific texter so there’s A LOT there. Haven’t been able to get to a place to read all the way back yet, but it’s such an amazing thing to have. Maybe 70% delightfully mundane musings and 30% incredibly profound.

  135. Belle of the Midwest*

    What a beautiful woman she is, and oh I am so sorry about this. I hope she is as painfree and comfortable as possible these next days, and that you can make some loving memories along the way.

  136. Orphanat31*

    My Mom passed 32 years ago from pancreatic cancer, I wish those options had been available then. I wish you and your family peace and I hope that your Mom is able to get the dignity she deserves.

  137. GreyjoyGardens*

    I’m so sorry about your mom, Alison. Pancreatic cancer is a b*tch and a half – it’s almost always diagnosed after it spreads.

    My state offers medical assistance in dying, and I’m glad. We treat our pets with more compassion than our dying loved ones. I had to euthanize my elderly cat whose kidneys and liver were failing (and whose heart was broken because her “son” had died – he wasn’t really her kitten but she looked after him since kittenhood and they were a bonded pair).

  138. Picard*

    I was an end of life caregiver for my MIL when she had pancreatic cancer. Its NOT an easy death. I am so so very sorry that you and your mom have to take this journey. I am also so very glad she had the resources to move to a place that allows Dying with Dignity. I too am a VA resident and did send a message to our reps (Looking at you Mark Peake and Wendell Walker) but know that they will NEVER be on board with this. They have proven time and again that they care not for anybody’s bodily autonomy. (sorry about my ranting)

    In any case, may your path forward be as gentle and comfortable as possible. Hugs to you both.

  139. Lucien Nova*

    I’m so sorry, Alison.

    Your mum is an amazing woman, it’s very clear where you get your own amazingness from.

  140. CanadianPublicServant*

    I am so sorry for what your family id facing, Alison – my heart is with you.

    And, your Mom sounds amazing. Strong. HILARIOUS. A beautiful person. I appreciate you sharing some snippets of her with us, it has been a blessing.

    And I am grateful that Canada has made MAID available in many circunstances. May it be a choice for more people in tbe coming days and years.

  141. Call Me Dr. Dork*

    I am so sorry. This story has gotten me off my butt and got me to write to my state senator and representative about this – I was surprised to find out that Illinois doesn’t even have pending legislation about MAiD.

  142. Gracely*

    I’m so sorry, Allison. I wish you and your mother peace. I hope that one day everyone who needs the option of medically assisted help in dying is able to get it without having to fight for it or move.

  143. MEH Squared*

    I’m sorry about your mom, Alison. Everyone should be able to make the choice to die how they want at the end of their life. Your mother is a marvel for dedicating herself to this issue in the time she has remaining. Thinking of you and your mom is this difficult time.

    1. Petty Patty*

      Death with dignity needs to be available to all mentally sound adults with significant health issues, regardless of specific diagnosis, in my opinion.

  144. annonforthis*

    I’m so very sorry. We lost my mom to pancreatic cancer in 2018, and my paternal grandmother in 1994. I’m really sorry you and your mom are going through this and that the Virginia law makers made that choice. I hope the move into DC goes as smoothly as possible, and that you and your family are surrounded by love, grace, support, and practical help in the days to come.

  145. Laurie*

    I 100% agree with your mom. I’ve always thought we should be able to have a pill to use as we see fit, before it gets to the point that you can’t make a decision for yourself. I will contact my legislators.

    I’m very sorry about your mom’s illness. She seems like a very cool person.

  146. Patrick*

    I’m so sorry you have to go through this, Allison.

    My mom had pancreatic cancer too. We live in a death with dignity state, and her decision was it was time once she was using the opiate painkiller 24 x 7, so all of the day she was feeling mentally fuzzy.

    She very much regretted dying younger than she otherwise might have, yet didn’t mind it as a manner of death otherwise. She had a year after diagnosis, so long enough to make sure her will was in order and say goodbye to anyone she wished to. Chemo was scheduled, so she could tell people when to visit when she would be at her best. But not lingering on long after there was nothing left to enjoy anymore.

  147. Phoenix Wright*

    I’m so sorry, Alison. Your mom sounds like a wonderful person, and the fact that she is going through such a horrible thing and yet keeps fighting for what she believes in is absolutely amazing. Everyone should have the right to choose when they will go, and to do so as painlessly as possible.

    I truly wish you all the best.

  148. Grieving in California*

    My mother died a few months ago, of cancer. While we are in California, unfortunately the end came on too fast — all of a sudden, it was “two weeks to live” — to take advantage of the laws here. She wanted that option, but needed months for the paperwork. While it was not a lot of days and I am thankful for that, her final days were extremely painful and traumatic for us all. (We honored her wishes and took care of her at home ourselves but having watched her die in agony I will never ask someone I love to do that for me.) My father blames the doctors for this hard death, believing they didn’t tell us how serious it was until it was too late. We’ll never know.

  149. McFizzle*

    I’ve often thought (and said) that we’re kinder to our pets in death than to humans. I wholeheartedly support this initiative.

  150. Syzygy*

    My deepest condolences. Your mother is amazing, & she raised an incredible daughter. I wish you both peace & strength, & I will contact my elected representatives about this matter. ((Hugs))

  151. J*

    I’m so sorry. I’m really grateful you’ve shared this with us and have given your own voice of support. I’m a cancer survivor who recognizes I may end up needing this myself one day. I know my own state has come down pretty firmly against it and I’m spending what are hopefully my middle-age years thinking about leaving my own state now before I’m ill. I’m glad your mom has a nearby locale but that’s not good enough. She deserves better from her community.

  152. Rosyglasses*

    Echoing the many sentiments here on your mother’s beauty as a human, inside and out. Her work that she has dedicated her time to is so impactful and a right that everyone should have access to. I wish you all the smoothest move and transition possible so that she can live her life on her terms. I appreciate your post and the work you do to make the workplace and the social ground around it a safe, inviting, and welcoming place to be. Much love to your family.

  153. Allornone*

    I hate that while I’m in a state with a higher-than-average population of older individuals (Florida), it’s also a state that will probably be one of the last to pass this kind of legislation.

    My thoughts are with you and your mom.

  154. Lenora Rose*

    Condolences. I think about my mom passing on and it’s just one of those concepts, like my husband or my kids, which is just too big and awful to hang onto coherently. And yet, she’s been open about making some plans in that direction (Making a will, cemetary plot, etc) and I ALWAYS think those are important.

  155. BabaYaga*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom. She sounds like an absolute powerhouse who’s improved the planet during her time on it and it’s always tragic when we lose someone that special.

    Pancreatic cancer is horrifying- a friend of mine died from it a couple years ago at the age of 26.

    Sending you love and encouraging folks to lobby their local representatives.

  156. Corrigan*

    Thank you for sharing Alison. I’m sorry your family is going through this. I fully support medical aid in dying.

  157. I'm Just Here For the Cats!*

    I’m sorry to hear about your mom and I hope that one day we all have the choice if we are terminal ill to die the way we feel most comfortable.

  158. AnonInCanada*

    Thankfully in Canada this has been the law federally since a Supreme Court decision in 2016 struck down any law or regulation that prohibited MAID. Dying with dignity is the law throughout Canada. Having to be put on life support for the sake of prolonging the agony for the terminally ill is tantamount to torture and shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere.

    I’m truly sorry for you, Alison and your dying mom. She should be given the right to end the agony she must be going through. If only the SCOTUS can do something similar to the SCoC, to give everyone going through this the right to a peaceful end, will be better for everyone.

  159. tessa*

    Thank you, Alison. I’m sorry about your Mom. Will help fight the good fight. Wishing you peace on this journey with your Mom.

  160. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

    I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing your mom’s story. Sending lots of love from across the river.

  161. Sadie*

    I’m so sorry, Alison. I knew two people who were able to die with medical aid in Canada and having personal experience with it, I feel very strongly that it’s an option we all should have.

  162. irene adler*

    Sincerest condolences.
    A remarkable lady, your mom. Even now, working for the benefit of others.
    Her influence will be felt far and wide.

  163. Agleh*

    My heart goes out to you. May you feel peace during this troubling time. I’m sure she’s so proud of you.

  164. Readersaurus Rex*

    Oh Allison, I’m so sorry to hear this. Your mom sounds amazing.

    I clicked through and the story that resonated with me was watching Dallas with your parents. I bullied my parents into watching Dallas when I was 5 because of the “who shot JR” cliffhanger. Everyone was talking about it and I wanted to know, damnit! So my parents and I became avid Dallas watchers and didn’t miss an episode until the end of the show’s run. It is a treasured memory of my childhood.

  165. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

    Yet another challenge for people who are facing a terrible challenge already.

    So sorry about all of this. But I’m glad there is an island of sanity nearby, even though your mom has to pull up roots to get there.

    Take care of yourself while you help your mom do the same.

  166. Avril Ludgateaux*

    This is not a decision anybody ever wants to make, but everybody should have it afforded to them if the time comes. I am so sorry for your mother’s diagnosis, her suffering, and the decision made by detached legislative representatives to deprive her and others of dignity, agency, and serenity in their final days. I hope your mom finds her peace and I hope you get to spend her last days with her, even if in DC.

  167. Amanha*

    Your 2018 post about your mother is beautiful. She is clearly a wonderful, fun, caring person – I’m so sorry for what she has to contend with now, both physically and legislatively.

    I submitted a letter to my NC representatives. Lord knows my state can use all the help it can get to enact sane and compassionate legislation.

    This issue makes me think of the book Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. It’s a touching and very informative account of a doctor’s experience with end-of-life care, and what it means to have a “good death.” Highly suggest it for anyone who is facing this with a loved one. I read it a year ago and found it extremely moving (and surprisingly uplifting, given the subject matter).

  168. Milksnake*

    I’ve emailed my representatives to encourage them to pass this law in my state.
    Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue. If patients have the right to forego treatment they should have all tools available to them to ensure a peaceful passing.

  169. JustMe*

    For those who are concerned about whether Aid in Dying bills put vulnerable populations at risk, I highly recommend reading up on the safeguards that have been put in place for DwD bills in Oregon and Washington. In Oregon (where it was first legalized) there are several safeguards to ensure that individuals are not pressured to make choices they do not want to make and to ensure they are making the choice due to a terminal illness and not a psychiatric disorder. The life-ending drug must also be self-administered. A well-written Aid in Dying bill will not adversely affect PoC, women, or individuals who are elderly or disabled.

  170. Sharpie*

    I’m so sorry about your mum, I hope you can enjoy these days together, however long or short they may be. I’m sending all the very best for you both.

  171. RabbitRabbit*

    So sorry to hear about your mother and what her state did to rob her of an important choice in her life; thank you for being there for her and advocating for the rights that so many people need.

    I once had a veterinarian who was performing a sad but needed euthanasia on one of my pets lament that we could not treat humans as kindly. She mentioned a formative memory from her childhood, of a beloved uncle who was withering from cancer and who had been restrained to the bed because he was fiercely attempting to do whatever he could to make his end come more swiftly – trying to remove IVs and anything else in desperation.

    When it’s time, I wish for a gentle passing for your mom.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My dad stopped eating and drinking for that same reason in his last week when he was ill with cancer. He declined further treatment as well. I think they tried to talk him out of it, which if it really happened is a horrible thing to do to someone who’s in a world of pain and on meds and cannot advocate for themselves as eloquently as they’d like to. But they did eventually agree and transferred him to hospice. I hope I have the willpower to do what he did if I’m ever in that position, but it’s hard and I don’t know if I’ll be able to.

  172. El Camino*

    Alison, I’m so sorry. It speaks volumes about your mother that she’s been spending this time advocating to help others – and it’s no wonder you’ve inherited that same fortitude. Your mom sounds like an incredible person, and I wish her, you, and your family peace and strength as you navigate this together. Thank you for sharing this important issue with us.

  173. Avid Reader*

    I am so sorry to hear this news. This issue is very important, I live in California where this is legal. A really good resource for anyone facing a terminal illness, I recommend following @hospicenursejulie or @hospicenursepenny. They talk frankly and openly about everything regarding end of life. Today, I am thinking only the kindest thoughts for you and your family.

  174. PhyllisB*

    Alison, I’m so sorry. I read a book on this topic last year that you might find helpful. It’ titled: When My Time Comes: Conversations About Whether Those Who Are Dying Should Have the Right to Determine When Life Should End by Diane Rehm.

  175. the cat's ass*

    I’m so sorry about your mom and support this legislation 100% (as a former hospice nurse). She sounds like an incredible person and I appreciate you sharing her fight with us. I am wishing you and your fam the best.

  176. Coffee Bean*

    I am so sorry to read about your Mom and for what you and she are going through. She sounds like a great person.

  177. ECS*

    Sending you and your mother love. Thank you for sharing this story and supporting this very important cause.

  178. Bossy Magoo*

    I’m so sorry your mom (and you!) have to endure a devastating disease AND bureaucracy on top of it. I second following @hospicenursejulie, who is just wonderful, informative, and comforting about end-of-life. When the time comes I hope her passing is peaceful and loving.

  179. Mary Beth*

    Your mom sounds like an incredible woman. Everyone should have the right to choose to end their life (or not) on their own terms. Sending you both a lot of love and a hope for a peaceful good-bye, free of physical pain.

  180. Michael Kaplan*

    thank you for sharing this, and for all that you share.

    i love your posts and i’m sorry to hear about this diagnosis.

    much love to you and your mom and family and all.

  181. elleinadarat*

    I’m so sorry your mom is dealing with this. She sounds like an amazing person and parent. I live in a state where Medical Aid in Dying is legal, but it should be law everywhere. Thank you for sharing and thank you to your mom for her unending efforts.

  182. Barely Managing*

    I am so very sorry that you and your mom are dealing with this. I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer in 2020, only a few weeks after he was diagnosed. It’s a nasty, insidious disease and while it was my privilege to be able to support my dad through the end, I would not wish that path on anyone. It’s a strange thing how poorly the USA handles dying and everything around it, and I admire your mom for continuing to advocate for others.

  183. Eldritch Office Worker*

    My husband and I are strong advocates for the legislation in Massachusetts, which unfortunately is still an issue the state remains divided on. We hope to see more states pass Right to Die laws in the future. All our love to your mom, and to you.

    1. Hoppys*

      my understanding from talking to people about it who are involved in trying to get this passed is that the influence of the Catholic church here in Massachusetts is very strong. And they are very very against it.

  184. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    I’m so sorry, Alison, and I hope this post helps many other people make independent and thoughtful choices in difficult situations.

    It absolutely sucks that you have to face saying goodbye to your mom, but please thank her for us, for making you possible.

  185. JustAThought*

    I very much admire the work your mother is doing. I will investigate this issue in my state. Thank you for sharing this. All the best to you, her & yours.

  186. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mother’s journey; she sounds like an incredible human. MAiD is such an important treatment, and access should be much broader than it is. I hope your mom’s move to DC isn’t too stressful, and that she finds peace in knowing that she has agency in her life, and dignity in her death.

    Saying good bye to someone who is accessing MAiD is a profound and special experience, and also one that we don’t have good cultural scripts for navigating yet, in my experience. Wishing your mom, you, and your whole family grace as you support your mom and navigate this process together.

  187. stacers*

    Oh, Alison. When — if — your Mom decides it’s time, I wish peace and love for both her and you, and all who care about you. May your remaining months together be filled with happy moments and warm memories.

    I lost my sister in 2021 to cancer. She was 47. Where we live, she didn’t have that choice, though I believe she made her own way by delaying medical intervention for a chronic problem and leaving clear instructions not to take any measures beyond basic comfort for her resulting care. But it was still in a hospital, which she did not want, and the outcome was uncertain, which added to her stress.

    Two months after that, I was able to sit in her house, have a vet come to us and choose the time and place for her beloved, 15-year-old dog to go to his eternal rest. I will forever be grateful I had that option; he deserved to be in his home, to be comfortable and to fade peacefully.

    But she deserved that, too.

    I have no confidence that my Ohio legislators will do the right thing, but it’s only by trying that we have any hope or possibility for change.

  188. Anon E. Mouse*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. She deserves better. I just finished “In Love” by Amy Bloom. The author tells the story of her husband having to go abroad for this kind of medical care. I hope that more and more stories will bring this issue out into the open and into public consciousness.

  189. Czhorat*

    All I can say is that I’m very sorry. It’s a hard road, especially given a cancer with such a poor prognosis.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

  190. Saligator*

    I’m so sorry about your mother. I live in a predominantly conservative state that can be slow to adopt newer, more progressive legislation. I’m not sure how much my emails will make a difference… but in honor of you and your mother, I wrote them anyway.

    I hope you both are able to enjoy whatever time you have left together.

  191. Jenna*

    Alison – I just want to say I’m very sorry about your mom. My dear mother-in-law passed away from abdominal cancer exactly 1 month ago. My heart goes out to you, your mom and your family.

  192. Ho-ho-holey hose*

    I am so sorry. We have MAID here in Canada, and it is such a gift for those who want to access it. While I am sorry your Mom has to move, I am glad she still has options that will allow her to face this on her own terms.

    I had a good friend die of pancreatic cancer at 42. He was also a health and fitness fanatic. Cancer sucks

  193. Practical Criticism*

    I’m so sorry about your mother. She sounds like an amazing woman. And I’m even more sorry she doesn’t have the freedom to take control over her end of life in place she calls home.

    Wishing you and your family peace and strength in the coming months.

  194. Dr. Rebecca*

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Alison. I’m so sorry to hear the news about your mom, she sounds amazing. Please thank her for her fight–it’s an important one. If she’s well enough, during her remaining time in DC, she might enjoy a day at the International Spy Museum.

  195. Bob-White of the Glen*

    I am so sorry about your mom Alison. What a terrible time for your family. I hope you get to make some fond memories in the time you have left.

    I am so sorry that she is having to move to receive common decency. What a horrible situation when zealots get to force the rest of us into massive pain and suffering, and the destruction of any savings. I don’t know if this is about real beliefs or just the desire to drain every dime from people they can. I am so grateful to live in WA, and want the power of knowing I have the option, even if I don’t use it, as so many do.

    Your mom and you will be in our thoughts, and we will be sending the best energy possible her way. Hugs!

  196. Hrodvitnir*

    Sending much love to you and your mother. I also have very strong feelings about this.

    Just before I was diagnosed with bowel cancer, NZ had a referendum for the legalisation of marijuana and assisted death. I voted yes for both – and was very surprised that marijuana did not pass, buy euthanasia did.

    My relief that that passed while waiting to see if my very large tumour had metastasised cannot be described.

    It’s been 2 years since diagnosis now, so chances of recurrence have dropped significantly. I remain most highly at risk of peritoneal carcinomatosis – a generally end stage local metastasis, I am very much not keen to die from the effects of that, thank you. (Cancer all over the connective tissue that surrounds your organs is not a good time.)

    I am rooting for you. And my sympathies for the diagnosis – in a lot of ways bowel cancer was a fairly not-awful tumour to have (though it was close to obstruction by the time it was removed. I’ve had 1/3 of my large intestine removed, but I didn’t need a stoma and it works remarkably perfectly at 2/3 the length!)

  197. H2*

    I’m so sorry, Alison. My died unexpectedly two weeks ago, at a very young 68 years old, and I had no idea how hard it is to lose a parent. Peace to you and your whole family through this time.

  198. Katya*

    I’m so, so, so sorry that you have to go through this. Your mom sounds super cool and I’m glad to have gotten to know this little bit about her. I’ll be thinking about you and your family.

  199. lilsheba*

    I’m very sorry about your mom, and I hope she can die in the manner that she wants, when she wants. I’m in one of the lucky states where this is legal and I am so grateful for that.

  200. Fieldpoppy*

    My heart is so full for both of you.

    We have MAID here in Canada for this circumstance and while not everyone wants it, the fact that it exists is transformative. I send you all so much light. I am so sorry.

  201. Owlet101*

    I am so sorry that you and your family are going through this. It really sucks that she had to move to be further away in this time as well.

  202. iglwif*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. Pancreatic cancer is an asshole — a member of my extended family recently died from it, so I speak from experience here — and I fervently hope that your mom, who sounds like an amazing person, is able to make the choice that’s right for her.

  203. Sabrina*

    Allison I’m so sorry your Mom is going through this, and thank you for sharing this information about Medical Aid in Dying.

  204. AngelicGamer (she/her)*

    I just want to say that I’m so sorry you and your mom are going through all of this. Many (((hugs))) to you both.

  205. Newbie*

    Echoing everyone else’s sentiments to Alison. Can I just say, as someone who would like to be more engaged politically and finds it intimidating, I wish it was easier to contact elected representatives. Part of the issue seems to be that it’s not all that easy to even identify my state District, based on the way web sites seem to struggle to connect my address with a legislator. Like in many states, it also changed recently so I still find out-of-date information online. The legislative offices don’t make it super easy to make requests of them without also getting added to spammy lists and bugged for donations, for obvious reasons. Do you think they pay attention to postcards mailed to their offices, if I identify myself as a voter in their district?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, they do — legislative offices track what calls/emails/letters/postcards they get on each side of an issue, and they assume every one of those speaks for dozens more who don’t take the time to contact them. It really matters.

      For contacting your members of Congress and your state legislators, you can always go here and put in your address and it will tell you who your reps are and how to contact them:

      Thank you to everyone who is doing this today (and for your comments in general) — I really appreciate it.

  206. RT*

    I’m so sorry Alison. I went through something similar last year. Mom was given 2-4 months, another kind of incurable cancer. Was fortunate that she lived 9 more months and passed away peacefully with her family by her side. Still hurts and I miss her lots. My thoughts are with you. Hang in there.

  207. LGP*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. She sounds like an amazing person. I wish you and your family strength and peace.

  208. MediumEd*

    Your mother is amazing! She reminds me that we all have time, at any point in our lives, no matter what we are going through, to advocate for what we believe in. I am so sorry you have to go through this.

  209. GrooveBat*

    I’m really sorry, Alison.

    My mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in December 2014. She was 83. The bravest thing she ever did was say no to a highly experimental chemotherapy treatment that was not likely to work but would have made her final weeks utterly miserable. She faced death with courage and dignity and remained sharp, funny, and feisty right up until the end.

    I hope you get some good time with your mother while you both go through this. My mom and I had some of our best talks ever during her final weeks and I will always treasure that time, despite how sad we all were.

  210. Nancy A*

    Your loss is shared with all of us. She’s leaving a legacy that is going to help others in the same situation and she leaves behind a daughter who is helping us navigate the immense stupidity of corporate America. Her death will leave a hole in the Universe that cannot be filled. I’m sorry.

  211. Me ... Just Me*

    I am so very sorry that your mom (and you) are having to go through this. Death with dignity is very important.

  212. Hididdlyho*

    I went through this with my father in 2020. Pancreatic cancer is a brutal, pernicious disease. You have my most sincere empathy. Please prioritze self care as much as you are able.

  213. Youngin*

    Your mom is a badass, and I can see that the apple fell close to the tree on that one. My heart is with both of you and your entire family. I hope that when it is your moms time to transition over, that she is able to do that in power, in peace, with all of your family’s love by her side. I will be praying for her, and for you.

    I lost my grandmother over the holidays. We found a weird scab on her finger one Monday morning and 2 weeks later she was able to peacefully pass, in hospice surrounded by family. She had T-Cell cancer and i am thankful she did not suffer. Everyone deserves this, to leave this world peacefully and with dignity. Thank you for sharing this, I will be contacting my local lawmakers with you mom in my mind and heart immediately

  214. Aunt Vixen*

    Oh, the way my heart dropped out of my chest when I read “mass on her pancreas.” I’m so sorry. This is absolutely not fair.

    I’ll be thinking of her and you and your sister and your families.

  215. starsaphire*

    Sending support. Lost my mom from kidney disease a few years back.

    You clearly have inherited a lot of her strength and courage. She sounds like an amazing woman.

    I’m so sorry.

  216. Goldenrod*

    What a powerful and beautifully written reminder that we’re all living on borrowed time. Your mom sounds so cool, Alison.

    Thanks for letting us know about this wonderful charity.

  217. Spicy Tuna*

    Alison, you are always so kind when people post a question and it has to do with a serious illness or death of a family member, so I hope you can take some solace in the commentariats’ heartfelt messages.

    Nothing to add except thank you for posting the information, thank you to your mom for her advocacy and a big virtual hug

  218. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    I’m so sorry for your loss.
    I lost my husband last summer in much the same rapidfire way due to esophageal cancer. Diagnosed in April, he passed in late June at the age of 54. He was gone in 3 months and it was horrible to see.

    1. Amy P.*

      I’m so sorry about your husband. We lost my father to esophageal cancer and it is so hard to see someone you love in so much pain and not be able to help.

  219. Dana Lynne*

    Thank you for letting us know about this. Wishing you and your family the best in this very difficult time. You mom sounds awesome.

  220. Amy P.*

    I’m so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose a beloved mother. Many wishes for your Mom to leave this life on her own terms and for your comfort.

  221. anon24*

    I’m so sorry Alison.

    The fact that we don’t have these laws is inhumane. Everyone should support them. Just because you wouldn’t make that choice doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t have the chance. I worked EMS for a few years, and I saw a lot, and I saw so many people suffering at the end of their life who didn’t need to. It broke my heart every time.

  222. Harper the Other One*

    I’m so sorry about your mom – she sounds like an amazing person. I am a huge advocate for MAID and I hope it continues to be made legal and accepted. There are justifiable reasons to be cautious about how legislation is phrased but death with dignity is such a powerful choice.

  223. Abogado Avocado*

    I am so, so sorry, Alison. This is really awful news, even as your mother has reacted in an incredibly positive way. If there is any good in this diagnosis, it is that you have some time to say your goodbyes. That’s not much to celebrate, I know, but don’t underestimate the opportunity to tell her your mama you love her, ask her for the secret of life, get all the “secret” family recipes, and to really be there for her. One of my parents died of cancer and, as much as I abhorred what cancer did to my parent, I will always hold in my memory those final months that we had together to laugh, to cry, and to tell each other how much we loved each other. Sending hugs across the interwebs to you and your family.

  224. Meera*

    I’m sorry about your mum, and deeply moved by her will and generosity in fighting to make things better.

  225. Jessica Fletcher*

    I’m so sorry your mom and your family are going through this. I agree that people should be able to end their suffering on their own terms.

  226. Pam B*

    I’m so sorry Alison. My father also died from metastatic pancreatic cancer 10 years ago, and his diagnosis was also sudden. It’s never easy to support your parent through this disease while you’re still processing this sudden news. I’ve been a reader for many years now, and you provide such thoughtfulness to your readers on a daily basis that I appreciate so much.

    It’s amazing your mom is dedicating her efforts towards Medical Aid in Dying. I live in WA state now but my Dad passed away in PA, and he didn’t have this option. I know he would’ve appreciated having this as an possible piece of control over a situation so out of his control.

    Thanks also for sharing something so personal in order to (hopefully) effect change. You and your mom will be in my thoughts.

  227. A foreigner and stranger on earth*

    I cannot tell you how sorry I am to read this. I am so sorry your mom has received this terrible diagnosis.

  228. It's Marie - Not Maria*

    People should be allowed to die with dignity, and on their own terms. Your Mom is a warrior, and a champion for others. My heart goes out to you and your family, but most importantly, to your Mom.

  229. paxfelis*

    I hope she leaves lots of wonderful memories behind her, and I hope her passing is easy and peaceful. I hope her dedication leads to effective and beneficial ripple effects. And I hope for a miracle cure for cancer so that she may be one of the last to endure this.

  230. laser99*

    I am so very, very sorry. What a rotten, unfair, miserable thing to have happen.
    I’m sure you already know this, but sometimes it helps to be reminded from another source: Please, please don’t hesitate to lean upon anyone and everyone for help. Most people are eager to help.

  231. Hoppys*

    Thank you for sharing this and the advocacy that you and your mom are doing. I’m so so sorry that both of you are facing such a sad situation. I have had metastatic cancer for over four years. My cancer is incurable, but not immediately life threatening. But that time will come.

    I had an existential crisis for several months, if not a year after the diagnosis, and I realized that I don’t fear death, but I live in terror of the death process. I am so afraid that I will be in terrible pain and suffer horribly before I die. While hospice and palliative care do their best, many cancer patients do suffer unrelieved pain, and some pretty horrible things happening to their body before they die. I don’t want that. I don’t need that extra time to suffer. Just let me go.

    I’ve had animals my whole life and done a lot of volunteer work and yes, we do treat our animals better when it comes to death. If one of my animals became very ill now, I will err on the side of euthanizing them too early rather than too late. Waiting too long is for me to prolong the pain I’ll feel losing them. I have such a strong appreciation now for quality of life versus quantity.

    My state does not have medically assisted dying. It has had attempts, but they always get voted down. It’s frustrating. The Catholic Church is extremely against it and that means a lot in my state unfortunately.

  232. Filicophyta / Yvonne*

    I’m sorry to hear this. I hope she can do what she needs to to be peaceful and comfortable.

  233. Kyrielle*

    I am so sorry, Alison. I hope that your Mom has longer than average at good comfort levels. And I hope that if and when she needs a peaceful exit, she is able to legally and safely take it.

    Years ago, my uncle took advantage of that option in our state. And while I never want anyone to need it, and I miss him – I am glad it was available to him.

  234. Numbat*

    Loving thoughts and warm hugs from Australia. People who use their limited time left to make life better for others in future are a special kind of badass.

  235. emmelemm*

    Alison, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom.

    While Medical Aid in Dying is legal in WA state, even here it’s not always easy to access. My 90 year old neighbor, I repeat 90 years old, who had cancer, was trying to go through the process, and you need to get two doctors to certify that you’re terminal and it’s reasonable and blah blah blah, and in doing so, he found that first, his primary doctor, and at least one other doctor he went to see, obviously “didn’t believe in” MAID, because they refused to sign off on it. Apparently any doctor can refuse to sign off based on “their own conscience.” I don’t think, especially here in WA, that these were specifically religion-based objections, just doctors who believe that their Hippocratic oath means no one dies, ever, on their watch, which needs to be rethought and retaught.

    So, an old man who was ill (and didn’t use a computer, so his 90 year old wife made a lot of phone calls, and neither could drive) had to doctor shop and get to and from multiple, repeated unnecessary appointments to get everything in place. And that’s not even taking into account how you are insured, and if you have to see four or more different doctors and some are outside your insurance network, can you afford it, etc.

    It turned out to be a difficult, demoralizing, expensive process in a time when that is the last thing you need. He did, finally, receive what he needed.

    So, in short: MAID for all, and make it simple, because throwing red tape and exceptions on it puts a huge burden on people who are *already suffering*.

    1. spaceelf*

      I don’t think the Hippocratic oath needs to be retaught, but the definition of ‘harm’ needs to be redefined. Unfortunately, this kind of stuff is often the beginning to institutionalized justified eugenics.

  236. AnonForThis*

    I will note that some of these laws are not sufficient. The Colorado law requires so much invasive counseling and evaluation before allowing medical assistance that someone I know, who had a lifelong phobia of therapists, chose a revolver (which is far easier to obtain) instead. To say that this was a far lonelier death for the person and a far more traumatic death for their loved ones is a hideous understatement.

  237. Indolent Libertine*

    I’m so sorry your mom, and you, and the rest of the family whoever/wherever they may be, have to deal with this. A friend just wrote about taking his mom to Switzerland to enable her to make a similar decision, with the help of an organization called Dignitas. May you all make the most of the time remaining, and may she go peacefully on her own terms whenever it’s time, and may her memory be for a blessing.

  238. Optimistic Prime*

    I am saddened to hear this news about your mom. My own mom died suddenly at 59. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  239. Sherm*

    Her youthful energy is clear, even from one picture. I am so sorry, and I wish peace for her, you, and all of her family and friends.

  240. lee*

    Thank you for sharing this personal tribute to your Mom and your plea for action on death with dignity. I wish her the best of care for her remaining days and I hope that you both get all of the support that you want and need.

  241. Lifelong student*

    I clicked on the link to send a message to my legislators. It included my state senator and representative. Just a suggestion- it could and should send letters to more than individuals like that- party leaders, governors, etc. Even federal people! Although that would be a lost cause. I for one will, when it comes to that point, find a way for Death with Dignity- even if it is not legal.

  242. Indie*

    It’s appalling how basic human dignity became divisive and political. And it’s even more appalling how elected officials will vote for torture and erasure in the name of “protecting the innocent”. I wish your mom did not have to go through that!

  243. Properlike*

    I’m so sorry. No one should be forced to leave their home simply to have a humane death. I’m glad your mother does have an option, and that she has you. I was surprised to see so many states on the “allowed” list, and also that mine wasn’t there.

    I’ve watched several family members make the precipitous decline through pain and dementia until they qualified for hospice at the very last minute.

    I’ll help continue your mom’s work to change this.

  244. Madame X*

    This is so heartbreaking. I’m so sad you’re going through this Alison. I hope you and your mom can find some peace during the last few days that she has with you. I hope she is able to live under her own terms for as long as she has. My condolences to you both.

  245. MicroManagered*

    I’m sorry for what you’re going through Alison!

    Thank you for the link. I sent a message to my state legislators!

  246. FanofAlisonsMom*

    I am so sorry. She sounds like a wonderful person. I talk to my kids all the time about end of life issues and control and this is very good information to have. You’ve changed my life, Alison, and I send so many good vibes to you and your family.

  247. I'm Not Phyllis*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, and what your family is going through. I admire her courage in fighting for MAID, which is essential to giving people the right to live and die with dignity and on their own terms. Sending you lots of whatever will comfort you most.

  248. Mel*

    My MIL had Parkinson’s for 20 years and it got so bad during the final few years she decided she was going to end her life. She could not speak audibly anymore, she could barely leave the apartment, and she could not even type or write so essentially she had lost all forms of communication with everyone except her husband. She lives in NYC and because of legal limitations, she starved herself. It took 3 weeks. Folks, this is not a great way of leaving. If she could have passed with legal medication, it would have spared her this terrible end and her family the agony of watching her suffer.

  249. turquoisecow*

    I’m so sorry to hear this. My grandmother died from pancreatic cancer and it was fast, I think she lived less than 6 months after diagnosis? It’s rarely caught early enough.

    Your mom is a strong woman to advocate for other people even while I’m sure she’s feeling terrible and would rather be resting and enjoying life rather than testifying before legislators.

    I’m in NY; will definitely write to my local legislators about this issue. Some comfort at the moment to know my parents are in NJ should they need MAID in the future, I’m sure NY will follow in legalizing but I’ll add my voice.

    I hope your mom can enjoy her final days with you and the rest of her family and friends, doing what she loves, even though she has to move.

  250. CatBookMom*

    So much sympathy coming your way. It’s really sad that she can’t have the End of Life that she prefers in her current home state, but I hope the move you mention to a state where she can get that care goes as easily as can be hoped for.

  251. mmkbb*

    I loved your post about your mom from a few years ago and I’m terribly sorry to hear about her diagnosis.

  252. tinyhipsterboy*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. My mom’s going through a cancer diagnosis herself and we’re waiting to see what happens next after chemo. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Your mom sounds awesome with how much she’s fighting for that legislation. Hang in there.

  253. Aphrodite*

    Your mom is such a courageous person–and a very generous one to keep fighting the good fight for others at this time in her life.

  254. Devo Forevo*

    I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this. My dad passed away in hospice last year from a neurodegenerative disease. Our state doesn’t have this law, so the thing that gave us the most peace of mind – and helped immensely when the decline started and we had to make a series of quick decisions – was having him set up a Natural Dying Living Will through It’s a very detailed advanced directive document that the lets the patient decide how they want to be treated or not treated in different scenarios that come up with cognitive and physical decline. We didn’t get time to sign, notarize, and file it with his care team, but his doctors were very understanding and honored it to the letter.

  255. LCG*

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. My mom died of gastric cancer this past October. She was hopeful that she’d be one of the few that makes it out alive right up until her last 2 weeks so she never requested, or even considered, a medically assisted exit. But I’m sure if she had gone that way it would have been a much faster/less painful way to go.

    I hope you and your family are able to get the support from friends/family/doctors/nurses to take care of your mom and yourselves during this really awful time.

  256. Megan*

    I am so so sorry this is happening. I firmly believe everyone (in sound mind) should get the right to choose.

    Where I live, Melbourne Australia, we have similar laws: the first in Australia.

    Link in comment below for those interested.

  257. The RED Redhead/HR Nimrod*

    I’m so sorry to hear that your mom is sick and that she has to move. I’m sending love and virtual hugs to you and your family.

  258. CatBookMom*

    Forgot to include our thanks to you for alerting us to this organization and their supportive info. We just recently finished up all the wills, trusts, and other End of Life documents, and we will fill out the Compassion in Choices documents and add them to our own file and give copies to our doctor’s office and to our attorney

  259. Immortal for a limited time*

    I’m so sorry to hear this. My dad died last week, but he was in his 90s. He had the luxury of having a long life and we had the luxury of not being blindsided. We live in Montana, but our aid-in-dying law is so vaguely written that it seems it’s never actually used. Providers are afraid to use it, and we’re a conservative state with nutty politicians. (A bill to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day just failed in our legislature for the fifth or sixth time. Can’t “erase history” and “make up lies” about white explorers, ya know…). My dad was prescribed an opioid patch at the end that would have helped eliminate any pain he might have been feeling and that undoubtedly speeded up the inevitable a few hours or maybe a day, which was a blessing. Thank you for the information on the bill.

  260. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    I’m so sorry for you and your mom, Alison. Dignity in dying is incredibly important. Thank you for using your platform for this needed advocacy.

  261. MKL*

    Your mom sounds sensible, generous and wickedly funny – thank you for sharing her story and her mission. Death with Dignity has a long way to go but it’s such a kind and gracious way to let people let go.

  262. A Teacher*

    I applaud humans like your mom. I teach a grief unit to my high school kids and we watch “The Suicide Tourist,” and learn a lot about Brittany Maynard through different videos. It is much needed legislation!

    I hope your mom is able to live the best life possible for as long as she can.

    Peace to you and your family.

  263. Suzanne Brown*

    I’m very sorry to hear about your mom. She sounds like a great person who cares about the world. I’m thinking positive thoughts about you both and hope you have love and strength with you.

  264. anony*

    I’m sorry about your mom, and appreciating her advocacy. Holding you both in my thoughts. Pancreatic cancer sucks.

  265. Daily Fan*

    Thanks so much for sharing and for trusting this community with such a deeply emotional journey. You and your mom are amazing. Sending internet hugs.

  266. Boof*

    I’m sorry. We can nudge the odds of health problems a bit with lifestyle and interventions but in the end, it’s not right or fair or predictable who gets what problem, particularly cancer. May the odds for round to be in your favor.
    People get very emotional about life and death, and I think the resultant legislation is… very weird, very discrepant. Logically it’s someone’s own business (+/- their dependents and health care proxy, if applicable) if they think it’s their time and at the end of the day, it seems better to leave the decisions in the hands of individuals and their medical teams rather than making a blanket ban. Some people just find even having that control soothing even if they don’t actually end up wanting to use it.
    Thank you for sharing.

  267. Grace W*

    Oh Alison,
    Long-term lurker, first-time poster. And a member of the worst club: kid of pancreatic cancer patient. My mom died of pancreatic cancer in 2014…also one of the healthiest people I knew.

    I live in Washington State, one of the first Death with Dignity states. My partner Ethan Remmel blogged about it, as he was dying of colon cancer (

    Happy to chat offline.


  268. Louisa Archer*

    Your mother sounds amazing and I am really sorry she is suffering. Thanks for sharing her story with us.

  269. It’s all good*

    I am so sorry Alison. Your mom is an inspiration. I look forward to the day when the right to die compassionately is available to all in the USA.

  270. Heather*

    I’m so sorry to hear this awful news. How cool that your mom is using her voice to advocate for this change.

  271. tamarack etc.*

    I’m very sorry about your mother.

    My father died of pancreatic cancer, and it was a very fast decline and indeed not what I would wish on anyone else. And a friend was exactly in the situation you describe – she had to fight, at the time, being approved for self-chosen lethal medication (the law was very new in her location at the time, around the year 2000, and there was much resistance still). Just having the option calmed her mind enormously, and she ended up not using it when she passed away (from breast cancer).

    My best thoughts to you and your family.

  272. A Becky*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. My grandma went the same way – cancer of pretty much everything that started in her pancreas. It’s rotten.

    May She who blessed our ancestors give you both peace <3

  273. PNW*

    I am so sorry about your mom. What an amazing woman she must be to continue this fight for Medical Aid in Dying under these circumstances. I am so grateful that I live in a state (Oregon) that allows Death with Dignity.

  274. xoxo*

    Such an important fight, bottomless thanks to your mom for her important advocacy, I’m sorry it has become so personal. Thank you for sharing, we are here for you both

  275. Activism in grief is so admirable*

    Much thanks to your mom for being proactive before this became as personal to her. It’s something important to me as well. I did email my state senators. It’s the least I could do.

    I’m sorry about your mom.

  276. Thank you for sharing*

    Sending you strength! My dad too was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and his onset was the exact same symptom. The itching. Thanks for also shining a light on that symptom. For us it took months to get a diagnosis as everyone just said it was a skin issue.

  277. Willow Pillow*

    I’m so sorry, my mother died suddenly late last year and it’s been really difficult. You shouldn’t have to be fighting for her autonomy on top of everything.

  278. Sie*

    Done. Thanks to your mom for her advocacy. She sounds wonderful and I’m so sorry your time with her is being cut so painfully short.

  279. greydog*

    Thanks for sharing your mom’s story and advocacy. Nothing more to say that hasn’t been said better above, but I’m posting myself to add another voice to the chorus of those who care about you and were touched by this message. Sending you strength.

  280. Enai*

    I’m sorry about your Mom, Alison. I wished I had anything to say that makes what’s going to happen easier, or less painful, or better in some way, but in the end, illness and death just sucks. Wishing you and your Mom strength.

  281. Jane*

    I’m sorry. All of this stinks. Your mom sounds amazing. Holding you up during this terribly difficult time.

  282. Inigo Montoya*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom! I’m sure you are treasuring every moment you have with her. Pancreatic cancer took my dad, and my parents were researching the Hemlock Society when he passed, too soon for me.

  283. LG*

    Oh, Alison. I am so, so sorry about your mom. She sounds spectacular. I am so tickled by the card she sent your boyfriend when he turned 26! I will be holding you in my thoughts during this very tough time.

    I really admire the advocacy work your mom (and you!) have done for autonomy in end of life choices. A dear friend of mine had Parkinson’s and got to the point where he was in deep suffering. (He was also very environmentally-minded and highly concerned about being a drain on resources.) He was too frail to go to another state and so decided to stop eating and drinking. Even with the loving support of his partner, family, and friends, this was a very tough way to die. It was hard on the folks around him, too. I really wish he had had another option, and I emailed my representatives to say so.

    Hang in there.

  284. Pam*

    I am so sorry about your mom and I hope she’s able to find the comfort and peace she so deserves in her own timing. She is badass and amazing and I’m so proud of you both.

  285. Sarah*

    My husband found out he had mesothelioma (cancer caused by asbestos) when he was 52, and was given 6 months. He was so relieved to have MAID as an option in Canada, and ended up using that option a little more that 4 months later when he could no longer swallow to eat or drink. It meant a peaceful, coherent death on his own terms, with our sons, rather than a drawn-out starving to death. Alison, I wish you all the best, good on your mom for her activism, and peace on her journey.

  286. Nancy*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. I am going through something similar and feel for you. Praying for you, your mom, and your whole family.

  287. SeluciaMD*

    Alison, I am so sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis. This must be so hard on all of you. She seems like an incredible woman and I deeply admire her passion and her zest for living even while she advocates for the right to die with dignity. That is something we should all be afforded. May the days you have together be (and feel) longer than you expect, even if they are shorter than you hope. Sending you all lots of love and jedi hugs.

    And yeah, I’m in Maryland and contacting my legislators about this. Thank you for the links and guidance.

  288. Mimmy*

    Alison, I remember when you first posted about your mom last year. I am sorry that she has to move to be able to exercise her right to die with dignity and choice. While I’ve always been a bit mixed about medically assisted death, I support MAID for the exact reasons you described. Sending warm thoughts and hugs to you and your family.

  289. Shark Week*

    I’m so sorry to hear this Alison. You’ve helped so many people, I hope you get some of that back.

  290. Lisa Large*

    Wise mother, wise child. Completely agree and support death with dignity. Comfort for you and yours through this difficult part of the journey.

  291. old curmudgeon*

    Alison, thank you for sharing this difficult update. I ache for you, and for your mom; I watched my mother die of metastatic breast cancer (also not a good death) in 1997, and I have some slight inkling of what you are going through.

    I wholeheartedly agree with both you and your amazing mother that terminally ill and mentally capable adults absolutely need and deserve the right to die with dignity in a manner of their own choosing. The right to choose the manner of our death is just as important as the right to make our own life decisions. And there is a subset of people in power in this country who are doing their absolute damnedest to prevent any of us from having the right to make any of our own choices, especially if we are not straight white men.

    My state has a Democrat in the governor’s office but heavily gerrymandered redistricting has given the Republicans a super-majority in both houses of state legislators, so I have scant hope of any death-with-dignity statutes in my state in my lifetime. But I won’t let that stop me from asking for them anyway.

    I send you and your mother all my best wishes for strength and peace.

  292. :(*

    My dad just passed from liver cancer, and it was a traumatizing and painful final hours for everyone involved. I learned one of the most important lessons of my life that day- when it’s time to go, it’s absolutely essential to go painlessly. I wish I would have done everything differently, and believe a “medically aided” overdose of sedatives beats waking suffocation.

  293. Corporate groupie*

    So very sorry about your mom. Not surprised to learn how very cool she is, as someone who has been reading you for years.

  294. WG*

    I am so sorry you and your family are going through this. Cancer sucks!

    Without a legal, doctor prescribed medication for making a choice on how to end a terminal diagnosis (if that’s desired by the patient), the other options
    available can be horrendous. I had a family member opt out in a manner that impacted the remaining family members in all sorts of negative ways.

    Thoughts and prayers to your mom and family.

  295. Amorette Allison*

    We had this conversation with my mother 12 years ago. Fortunately for us, her cancer slipped her into a coma and she died peacefully. But if she had been suffering, we had plans. I hate politicians sticking their noses into personal business just so they can score points.

  296. FionasHuman*

    I am so sorry you both are going through this, and in awe of your mother’s generosity and grace.

  297. Jen*

    Your mom is so impressive. Thinking of you both and your family in this difficult time. And thank you for these resources

  298. Ari*

    Thank you for sharing such a deeply personal and painful story. I’m glad to know these organizations exist to provide options for end of life decisions. I’ll be contacting them.

  299. Mavis Mae*

    Alison I am so sorry to hear about your mum. She sounds amazing. I hope things go as well for her and for you as possible and that legislators across the USA come to support Medical Aid in Dying.
    Please take great care of yourself as well as your mum. We readers want to support you, please take time away from the blog as you need.

  300. Wishing you the best*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom.

    A few years ago my dad’s terminal illness made it so every breath was difficult for him. We are so lucky to live in a state where he was able to make a choice. He lived every part of his life on his own terms, so of course his death was on his own terms as well. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his loved ones and pets. I also think it helped us as survivors to process the grief. I wish the same for you and your family when it’s time.

  301. Daytripper75*

    I am so sorry to read this and so grateful to you for giving us something we can do. As a person with Metastatic Breast Cancer living in a state with no compassionate end of life laws, I am scared about lingering and leaving my children with horrible memories and huge bills. It’s been on my mind for months to do “something” about this and I haven’t been able to give it any energy or brain power.
    Thank you for getting the ball rolling for me.

  302. Long time reader*

    Cannot emphasize how strongly I agree with this topic and (having been through a similar situation) send virtual hugs to you, your family, and your mom. THANK YOU for the advocacy and awareness!

  303. fposte*

    Another Illinoisan contacting my legislator. It’s ridiculous that MAiD legislation isn’t more widespread. My dad was an early Hemlock Society adherent and I absolutely support it. I’m sorry you and your mom have to deal with this bureaucratic madness in such an awful time, but it means that your mother’s legacy will be even more significant.

  304. Danielle Kempe*

    Sorry to hear about the cancer. Your mom sounds like a dynamo.

    I’m in MA and have a terminally ill friend who’s been advocating for the same death with dignity. It didn’t pass last year and hospice is pretty much starving her to death.

    I think as long as there are very strict safeguards to make sure it doesn’t go the way of Canada’s MAID program – where not terminally ill disabled people are being offered it because there isn’t accessible housing – then it should be legal.

    Wishes for your mom to be able to go peacefully.

  305. Btdt*

    My mom had MAiD in Canada, I am profoundly grateful to all the people like your mom who advocated for MAiD so my mom could have a painless death when she decided she was done.

    She sounds like an amazing woman- my heart goes out to your family.

  306. Our Lady of the Cats*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, Alison. She sounds (and looks) like a pistol!!
    If it means anything, my own mom was diagnosed with lung cancer (she never smoked in her life, either), in her 80s, and given a prognosis of six months. Later in the day that I found out, I happened to have a mammogram, and I was weeping. This brisk, no nonsense nurse found out the reason, and told me, “your mom will live into her 90s, just like mine did.”
    And she did.
    Because cancer moves much, much more slowly in older people. One of the few nicer things about getting older. And also, because she was a feisty, feisty lady, just like your mom, and people who are fighters have more life force, I truly believe.
    So I pass that along to you: your mom still may surprise you, even with that diagnosis, and be with you for more years than you think.
    But I agree with you–she has the right to decide when and how to go. Bless her for fighting so hard for others.
    And sending you love and grace and all the hugs for the months ahead. You will both manage to get through, with grace. Spend all the time you can with her. Just be with her. My favorite memories of my mom in those last years were the days I was just so tired, I curled up next to her on her bed, and we napped together. It was her favorite, too.
    That and the time I found her favorite dessert–Swedish Princess Cake–as a CUPCAKE, in her favorite bakery, and brought it to her; by then she didn’t eat much, but her whole face lit up and she DEVOURED it.
    It’s the small moments you remember, so cherish those.
    And Alison, take time off when you need it. We are all, I’m sure, perfectly happy to read “older columns” on days when you just can’t. We also LOVE the columns where you just ask us to tell our best stories (like the coffee wars stories this week). Please know we’re all here for you.
    Love from all of us.

  307. Rachel*

    I am so sorry your Mom is facing this unexpected challenge. Cancer can go *&%$## itself. It is truly cruel that all states don’t have the legislation allowing people to choose to die with dignity. I’m sorry your Mom and family have to uproot their lives so she can have what she needs. I wish her both peace and a pain free death.

  308. Little Miss Sunshine*

    Pancreatic cancer is a beast. Sending good thoughts to you, your mom, and all her friends and family. I pray your mom gets the peaceful ending that we would call humane if she were a dog or cat, but is considered criminal for humans.

  309. Roland*

    Thank you for sharing all of this. My grandmother was an advocate for similar laws in her country for many years. If she had the energy she would still be involved and I know she really wishes she had the access she fought for all these years. My grandfather in the US also wishes he had access to something like this, because even living in one of the states where it’s legal, access is very difficult and he and his kids really don’t feel like it’s a usable option despite it being his wish. This is such an important topic for people’s quality of life and bodily autonomy, and so hard to talk about.

    Sending all the good wishes I can to you and your family.

  310. 15PiecesofFlair*

    Very sorry that your mom is going through this. The right to die is legally intertwined with the protection of bodily autonomy. The state has no legitimate interest interfering with an individual’s decision, but the legal argument is much weaker in this illogical post-Roe landscape. We all deserve better than the current SCOTUS.

  311. TheExchequer*

    I am so sorry to hear about your mom and sorrier than I can say that she’s being denied easy access to the care she needs. I know it’s not much, but my deepest condolences in this difficult time. <3

  312. buddleia*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. She sounds like a force of nature!! I read your previous post about your mom – loved that she sent a sympathy card to your bf when you were 26. Talk about playing the long game!!! And adjusting her cooking to suit everyone’s dietary needs. So unlike the horror stories you hear from people whose family/frienss will ignore their allergies with horrible consequences. Big hugs to you and your mom, if you want them.

  313. Not Mindy*

    I’m very sorry to hear about your mom, and will keep you both and your family and loved ones in my thoughts.
    This is a cause that is important to me, too. Thank you for sharing something so personal and helping to educate people.

  314. STAT!*

    Thank you for telling us your Mother’s story Alison. I am sorry to hear of her illness & her situation. You are both in my thoughts.

  315. Vanellope*

    Alison, I’m so sorry about your moms situation. I usually try to be a kind and empathetic person but in this case I hope every single legislator who chose to side with their party line rather than basic human compassion dies a long drawn out death that shows them how wrong they were. Wishing for only the best for you and your mom; I hope her final decisions once she moves are unchallenged and peaceful. Xoxo

  316. StellaDoodle*

    Your mom sounds amazing. I also have an amazing mom. How fortunate we are to have such incredible people in our lives, who love us so much.

  317. Adultiest Adult*

    Thank you Alison for using your platform to advocate for such an important cause, and I am so sorry about your mom. Peace be her journey, and yours.

  318. CJ*

    My own mom went to pancreatic. You have my sympathies in the most literal sense of the word. I cannot be thankful enough to live in Vermont, and hope one day that patients elsewhere will have the option!

  319. Jellyfish Catcher*

    I’m so sorry that this is happening to your mom and your family.
    One of my loved ones chose to do this, and it gave them the peace of mind to know that they didn’t have to suffer a prolonged demise at the end. Everyone was supportive and had no regrets.
    Many years ago, another advice columnist discussed his mom’s decision to not
    get heroic treatment, for a few uncomfortable weeks. I’ll see if I can find that link, but it may not be available.
    Take care of yourself, Have your assistant run previous columns, take a break, whatever works; your readers will still be here.
    What I discovered is that grief jumps up at you at unexpected times, even months later, regardless of what you’re “supposed” to be doing – and that’s ok.

  320. Anne Boleyn's Necklace*

    Your mom sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing this with us, I really appreciate it. I am sorry that Virginia screwed it up. Sending warm wishes and hugs to you and your mom <3

  321. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

    I am so sorry. This is heartbreaking and I agree that everyone should have the right to die when the time is right for them.
    I will be thinking of you and your family.

  322. Gabriella Jessup*

    I’m so very sorry. As a fellow Virginian, I have written to my representatives and donated using the link you provided. Your mother deserves better. She sounds like an incredible woman.

  323. hmbalison*

    I’m so sorry your mom is having to confront medical care issues as she navigates the challenges of terminal cancer, but she sounds like a strong, determined person who will leave this life with her spirit intact. I hope as you care for and support her you are also gentle with yourself.

  324. Rachel*

    I feel so bad for you and your family and wish I could give you all a great big hug. May your mom’s move to D.C. be easy so she can get what she wants.

  325. Heather*

    I am sorry that your Mom (and the whole family) are facing extra challenges in navigating a good ending to her wonderful life. This is already a difficult enough time. Sending prayers for comfort, courage and peace for the time that is left with her and beyond.

  326. Timothy*

    I’m so sorry to hear this news.
    My parents absolutely hated the idea of being kept alive by machines, with no quality of life, and made up living wills probably twenty years ago, making sure my siblings and me were aware of their wishes. Mum died unexpectedly in August, and Dad declined after that. My brother and I had talked to him about Medical Assistance in Dying (available in Ontario), and Dad made sure we knew that that’s what he wanted, if it came to that. In September, he went on oxygen, starting losing his appetite, and shortly after that, started requiring personal care around the clock. He picked a date at the end of October for the event.
    The time was well chosen; he had signed a form confirming his wishes the previous week, and by the time the day rolled around, he was sleeping just about 24 hours a day. The doctor came in, made herself ready, then asked the three of us siblings to confirm we wanted to proceed. We all verbally agreed, while sitting around his bed and holding on to him. And in just a few minutes, it was over, and he was gone, at peace.
    It was merciful, and it was what he wanted.

  327. salad fingers*

    i haven’t been around these parts for a long time, but i saw this shared on twitter and had to pop in to say how sorry i am to hear about your mom. it’s both admirable and upsetting that she’s spending her remaining time fighting for a more humane system. sending a big internet hug to you, alison <3

  328. Lenora Brennan*

    I’m so very sorry about your mom and the suffering you are all living with. My mom had Alzheimer’s which was not physically painful but the period when she was aware of what was happening to her was a nightmare. The laws need to be changed. Perhaps today is the day a movement will start.
    Thank you for sharing. Peace.

  329. Ellis Hubris*

    I live in Oregon which had the first right to die law. Now that I’m in chronic illness, when I need that reality it should exist. For all.

    Simply, I’m sad you face this reality. That we get to know wonderful humans seems to be that we always have to say goodbye. May hers, and those who benefit from her work, beer choice and as lovely as possible.

  330. John*

    Sounds like an amazing woman.

    I hope you are able to spend time with her. Keeping you both in my thoughts.

  331. AnonNurse*

    As a person that has lost someone I loved dearly to pancreatic cancer and as a nurse who works in endoscopy/gastroenterology, so assist in diagnosing and treating patients with pancreatic cancer, I am so sorry for all your mother and you are going through. All people deserve to have dignity in death and I support this type of legislation more than I can express. Best thoughts for her and for you

  332. Lore*

    So sorry that you and your mom have to add more bureaucratic battles and the challenge of moving to all the other stresses and griefs and complexities of facing terminal illness. And add one more voice of admiration for you both in making meaning and impact out of something awful.

  333. LaFramboise*

    I’m so sorry for you and your mom that she and you have to go through this. I’m glad you are both total badass women. I’ll be writing and advocating.

  334. Michael G*

    100% agree with you!

    Sometimes dying needs to be on our own terms. I’m grateful to be a California resident.

    I’ll keep your mom in my thoughts. ❤️

  335. HMS*

    I’m so sorry about your mom—pancreatic cancer sucks. My stepmom fought it for 8 years. Sending you positive thoughts.

  336. Guinevere*

    I am so sorry to read this. Much love to you and your mom, and I hope her path is as pain-free and smooth as it can be.

  337. Starlight*

    My mother died of metastatic bowel cancer in 1995, at the age of 44. I was 11 years old. Watching her decline was devastating.

    I’m proud to live in the first state in Australia to legalise voluntary assisted dying. It is my hope that all adults will one day soon be able to make these decisions on their own terms.

    I’m sending you love and light.

    1. Jamie*

      My mother also died in 1995 when I was 11, but she was 49. Long term complications of radiation treatment for cervical cancer. I’m very sorry, it’s an awful club to be in.

  338. Cat Mom of 4*

    I’m sorry about your mom. My family lost my grandmother to pancreatic cancer. It truly is one awful disease. Grandma had told me before she got sick that she wanted a little pill that she could take when it was her time. As we live in a state that does not allow that yet, she did not have that right. Here is hoping that changes soon.

  339. DiplomaJill*

    My dad said to me, about a year ago, “Growing old ain’t for sissies.” Those words immediately came to mind reading this, and I can’t help to think — how unfair for her, for you. And yet, how amazing and strong she is. She’s clearly not a sissy. Thank you for sharing, I agree with her mission.

  340. Skippy*

    I love John Green’s book The Anthroposcene Reviewed (audiobook especially). He has an essay about Auld Lang Syne and take about how when his dear friend Amy Krouse Rosenthal told him she had cancer, he said, “This can’t be happening. You do so much yoga.”

    (Sorry about your Mom. I hope she has as many good days as she possibly can.)

  341. AAM follower*

    Skilled, compassionate hospice care is a great alternative that benefits both patients and their families. Walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” is a hard road. I experienced this journey with my father, mom-in-law, and father-in-law, and hospice care made it possible for each to pass with dignity, peace, and pain control. They gave medical aid in the dying process without hastening their passing and supported family members in care-giving and grief.

  342. Kewlm0m*

    Alison, how heartwarming to hear of the close, loving relationship you and your mom share. As difficult as it must be, know that you devotion is the best comfort to her that there is. Praying for strength for you, for her, and for your family.

  343. River Song*

    Alison, I am so deeply sorry to read this. I will be thinking of you, and please know I (and probably many of us) would be happy to come to the blog, every day, multiple times a day, to read old posts or scroll to keep up your ad revenue if you need a break for a few weeks (or however long you may need) to not post new content. Please take care of yourself. I live in a state where medical aid in dying is already legal, but my partner and I are going to donate to Compassion in Choices for Barbara.

  344. Sarah C.*

    Oh my goodness. What a wrenching, but so very helpful post. I am deeply sorry about your dear mother. My mother died of this in 1998, when there was even a shorter prognosis.
    Lots of love to your mother, and you, and all your family.

  345. Georgina Sands*

    Funnily enough, I filled in my form for Dignitas today, as my country does not allow anything like that. It’s a bit terrifying, I’m not going to lie, and I’m not 100% sure I will meet their criteria – but I am deeply grateful for the option, at least. I’m sorry for your mum. I hope you can get the legislation passed.

  346. Jellybean_Thief*

    Alison, I am so sorry to hear this — my mom died of metastatic pancreatic cancer, and you are right — it was not a good way to go.
    My mom also was a big believer in everyone’s right to choose their own exit, but by the time she began looking into her options for death with dignity (we are in CA), she was already ill enough that, as we listened to the process being described, she turned to me and said, “there’s no way I would be able to consume the entire drink and keep it down.”
    I mention this because I am wishing as many good days as possible, for as long as possible for your mom — but if you don’t already have a clear-sighted palliative care doc on your team, consider having one added so that someone is keeping an eye on how your mom’s developing illness might impact her ability to steer her own ship in this regard.
    Again, I am so sorry. I wish I could offer more comforting advice. I regretted never telling my kick-ass mom how proud I was to be her kid, but it looks like you’ve got that one covered.

  347. Bearly Containing Myself*

    I’m so sorry for what you and your mom are going through Alison. I read “some things about my mom” that you wrote about her in 2018 and can only say how much of a gift she must have been to you and all who were fortunate to meet her.

  348. Sally*

    Sending lots of love to you and your family. On principle I agree people should be able to die when they’re ready however I get worried that people could be abused with this because of messed up family and caregivers.

  349. gsa*


    I have a mantra about cancer that starts with an F like great big A$$ F cancer.

    I am sorry to hear about your Mother’s cancer.

    I went through something similar with my Mother many many moons ago.

    My mother was diagnosed a little bit late and it’s still killed her.

    We are leaned on each other regardless of anything.

    I will keep your mother and you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.


  350. Barely Managing*

    I am not sure that a particular number of condolences, one more or less in either direction, will make a difference to you. But in case it does, I want you to have this one from me.

  351. noenthusiast*

    I’m a librarian in NJ and I ran a program last year about the Medical Aid in Dying Law. I was surprised how many people attended, which taught me this is a choice a lot of people want to have. I highly recommend the presenters, they run a non-profit dedicated to helping terminally ill people navigate the law. You can learn more here

  352. StellaBella*

    I am so sorry this is happening to your mom, Barbara sounds amazing and is so strong. I live where we have a group called Exit and am thankful. Please thank your mom for her inspiration and work for others. Sending thanks and strength for your family. ♥️

  353. Noblepower*

    I’m so sorry about your mom.
    A friend of mine was diagnosed with cervical cancer a little more than a year ago, and being in California, she was able to decide when to go. I can’t express how much of a relief it was for her to have that control. Everyone should have the option available to them, should they want it.

  354. Emmy Noether*

    I’m so sorry Alison.

    I lost two grandparents to cancer and – not coincidentally – worked in cancer treatment research for a while. For any new treatment, it is studied how much it will prolong life on average, but I’ve become convinced that the more important metric is the quality of life during that extra time (this is also studied, though much harder to quantify).

  355. Myrin*

    I’m so incredibly sorry to hear about your mum, Alison. All the best wishes and virtual hugs to you.

  356. Em*

    Thanks for sharing, Alison. Your mom sounds incredible and I hope you get as much time as possible with her.

  357. Hannah*

    I’m so sorry about your mom. Thankfully, I live in a country where assisted death is a true possibiliy (even in the event of prolonged suffering, both physical and mental, you don’t need a terminal diagnosis) and honestly, this should be a given.

    I really hope your mom can go peacefully and gracefully on her own terms.

    Sending you and her and your family all my love.

  358. pandop*

    I am so sorry to hear about your Mum, I lost my own Mum just over a year ago (very suddenly – she had chronic conditions, but her death was unexpected), and I completely understand and emphasis about you feeling so blindsided.

    Take care of yourself, so you can care for her, until the time comes.

  359. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

    I’m sorry to hear about your mom’s illness and the cruel way that control over her own fate has been denied to her and millions of others. My home state is one of the ones that allows this, but I have felt for a long time that it should be a universal human right. We allow our pets to die in a safe and humane way when they are too overwhelmed by sickness and pain — I have never understood why we don’t give people the same opportunity.

  360. Mad_Bear_Lady*

    Your Mum sounds like a kind, savvy lady – exactly the kind of person who would advocate on behalf of others about something so important.

    I’m so sorry to hear this news – please look after yourself

  361. pcake*

    I’m deeply sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis, but how proud you must be of her. She sounds like a truly wonderful person.

  362. Marilyn*

    Allison, I am so sorry to hear this about your Mom . Making these decision are behind me for my parents but now in front of me for my care. I’m going to finalize it and put it with my papers. Thanks for the “kick in the pants” to take care of that.

  363. Roo*

    I’m so very sorry about your mum. My mum had cancer twice; I know how deeply it wounds all those it affects; it’s a cruel and cowardly disease. Sending you love and strength. x

  364. Clover*

    Oh, Alison, I’m so sorry. Your mom sounds like an incredible lady.

    Fucking cancer.

    I live in Oregon and my husband (a physician) is certified to prescribe for Death with Dignity. He got the certification at the wish of a longtime patient of his who received a terminal diagnosis. She didn’t wind up using the prescription–as you note, many patients don’t–but it gave her immense peace of mind. My husband found the training quite meaningful.

    Thank you for talking about this, getting folks thinking about it, and lobbying your legislature to make it legal where you live.

  365. Rosieplichta*

    My mother did this, she lived in Oregon so it was legal. It was still extremely difficult, but not as much as if she had continued to suffer. It was a bad cancer. Over the past 10 years I have been slammed by tragedy and grief, so I haven’t been as politically active as usual. But this is so, so important. Yes, help move this into life.

  366. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Our condolences to both of you having to face this, and we wish you and your mother only the best and successes in her final endeavors.

  367. English Rose*

    So sorry about your Mom Alison, she sounds fantastic. I completely agree with her need to have peace and self-determination around her death.

    We’ve been having similar discussions here in the UK about this issue, with many campaigns over the years, including a very recent one which is gathering momentum.

  368. FORMERHigherEdPerson*

    Sending so much love to you and your mom. If there’s anything that those of us in the DC area can do to help support here, please let us know.

  369. LadyProg*

    I’m so sorry for your family, Alison. I remember reading the post about your mom back in 2018 and thinking how awesome she was. Hope her time left goes as she’s planning, she deserves that control, everyone does.

  370. Liz in VT*

    I am so sorry for you and your sister, for your mom and the rest of your family. This journey is the hardest work we do in our lives.

    Your mom is a hero. Patient choice legislation (aka death with dignity) is so important – everyone should be able to choose how they want to handle a terminal illness.

    Wishing you peace & strength.

  371. RSTLNE*

    My mom’s best friend was able to access MAiD about 8 years ago when her MS became unbearable. We are so grateful that she had that choice (in Canada) and was able to have a “good death.” Sending love and good policy decisions to you and your mom

  372. Ally*

    I’m so sorry about your mum, she sounds great.

    We are working on improving dying with dignity in my country too. Baby steps.

  373. Right To Die*

    If you live somewhere that doesn’t allow people to make necessary life choices as to what’s best for themselves without harming others*–including ending their own lives–you don’t live somewhere that truly takes care of its citizens. It saddens me that so few places I know of meet this description.

    Am also in Virginia, but hopefully not for much longer (for many reasons beyond this one issue).

    *If I develop a terminal condition and you care about me, it makes you sad that I’m suffering and will be dead, but that’s not the same as harming you.

    1. Right To Die*

      As an aside, this is an issue I feel so strongly about, I wish I could make a career out of advancing and defending it! It’s such a necessary thing that people should have access to! Letting someone suffer when they’ve already made the “need to die” decision for themself is just abuse. I’m glad your mother is able to relocate to do what’s best for herself, but it should never have been necessary for her to move to finish out her life in dignity.

  374. chellie*

    I’m so sorry.
    When Death with Dignity was legislated here, I was so grateful to be able to testify. So many people suffering.

  375. Georgiana*

    I am so, so sorry. Pancreatic cancer is horrible. I’ve thought a lot about medical aid in dying since my grandmother ended up locked in her body, unable to move, but with her mind still sharp. I hope your mom finds peace, and I will definitely be contacting my legislators.

  376. Connie-Lynne*

    Alison, I’m so sorry to hear this and I share my best wishes to you, your mom, and all your loved ones that you can weather this time in the best way possible, whatever that means for you.

  377. Becca*

    I’m really sorry to hear this. Your mom sounds amazing and your love for her shines through your writing. I wish you as much good quality time and pain-free with her as possible.

    We don’t have legal medically assisted death in the UK at all and I strongly believe we should, I will donate to a local lobbying organisation in honour of your mom.

  378. Alpaca Bag*

    Alison, I’m so sorry to hear this. My daughter wrote a paper advocating for death with dignity when she was in high school after her dad suffered before dying. When she passed away from brain cancer last year, she really would have benefitted from Medical Aid in Dying legislation, but we’re in Pennsylvania so she couldn’t have it.

    The hospital staff did as much as they could to keep her as comfortable as possible at the end. They were so compassionate and caring, and cared for our needs, too. Seemingly little things like bringing a gluten-free snack basket so we didn’t have to leave her room made a huge difference. I’m telling you this in the hopes that it may ease a tiny bit of your fears of future events. Gentle hugs to all of you who are facing similar situations.

  379. Sarah*

    I work in palliative care (as an administrator) where my colleagues see first-hand the difference between a death on someone’s own terms and the alternative. Wishing your mom access to all the choices and decisions possible so that she can live and die on her own terms.

  380. BeeKeen*

    I’m so sorry your mom is having to go through this. My heart goes out to your mom, you, and your family. My mother (also from Virginia) had the same diagnosis and I can say that your description is exactly right – it’s brutal and she wished a thousand times for something like medically assisted death. I applaud your mother for pushing for this legislation.

  381. H3llifIknow*

    It has always baffled me that people will put an animal “out of its misery” to keep it suffering, but we selfishly and cruelly force people to live in perpetual pain. It is such a holdover from the Christian prohibition against suicide as the “only unforgiveable sin” and we need to work hard to eliminate it from our laws. One of the remaining areas where we do not separate Church and State and it needs to be eliminated!

  382. Kaiko*

    A thousand best wishes to your vibrant, amazing mother as she navigates the next chunk of time. A thousand more to you and your sister as you do the same. I hope you get meaningful time together and your mom receives the support she needs.

  383. well wisher*

    Best wishes to your mom. I’m glad she has the werewithal to choose to move, and it’s not too far away (assuming you’re in NoVa), although I can easily imagine a terminally ill person not having the resources/capacity to do so.

  384. Lizzo*

    Pancreatic cancer is an [expletive expletive expletive]. It took my dad. Looking back, he’d had symptoms for *maybe* a month, and by the time it made itself apparent, we had less than two weeks. He was almost 75, and he’d been healthy his entire life.
    I am so very sorry. Thank you for sharing all of this with us–this entire community is with you and for you.

  385. Heffalump*

    Alison, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I must admit that I selfishly read the rest of the post to see if assisted suicide is legal in Washington state, where I live, and it is.

    Having had two cats euthanized, I totally get the point about not letting pets suffer.

  386. Judith from Germany*

    I just read the Some Things About My Mum-article and I have to say it’s the most heartwarming text I’ve ever read. You get the sense of love you have for your Mum and your Mum seems to have for not only you but for the whole world word by word.
    I’ve never posted here before but I just had to say it: I am so sorry for what you’re going through and so glad there are people like the two of you in this world.

  387. OyHiOh*

    I live in one of the 10 states listed, and glad we have some kind of mechanism in place. However, I feel our state’s law is so restrictive that many people who would like to, may not be able to. Among other things, a terminal person has to have two different doctors sign off on their condition, and there’s a psych eval as well. The conditions virtually demand that people in the highly rural parts of our state where there may not be a medical clinic in your country or the 4 counties bordering it have to uproot their lives to move or temporarily relocate to the major metro areas in order to fulfill the conditions. While I understand that as a society we want to ensure that a person who is terminally ill is truly making a decision for themselves, Medical Aid in Dying needs to be actually accessible on the ground, not just on paper.

    On a personal note, one of my grandparents died of pancreatic cancer decades ago and at that time, survivability was commonly weeks, or days. While still an ugly and devastating cancer, it’s eye-opening to see progress for the most severe forms listed in months rather than weeks. When the time comes, I wish for you mom the peaceful end that my grandparent could not access and that her memory will be a blessing for your family and all who knew her.

  388. Massive Dynamic*

    Much love and light to you and your mom in this difficult time. She seems amazing.

    I fully support medical aid in dying. It’s legal in my state, but wasn’t when my dad was dying from cancer. I have a strong feeling that he would have at least considered the option.

  389. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    My heart just broke for both you and your mother reading this. I spent my childhood watching the great aunties and uncles die of various cancers (back in the era of everyone smoked) or watching various other relative stuffed into neglectful run down nursing homes. Watched my beloved grandma loose herself to dementia as an adult. I do not plan to go the route my ancestors were forced to. Not sure if its legal or not in my state, but I will end my life on my terms. (what are they going to do if its illegal?! sue my corpse?!) Please know that my thoughts are you with you and your mother.

  390. Dilly*

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. A member of one of my online communities also had out of control itching. It took longer than a few days for him to get his diagnosis (he was not fond of the medical profession and avoided doctors as much as possible), but he too was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer. He did not want to seek treatment, though they did eventually talk him into at least trying chemo because there was a possibility that it would relieve the itching. It did not, so he quit after 2 sessions. He passed away about 2 weeks ago, 94 days after diagnosis.

  391. bestatfarts*

    I am so sorry about your mother. I am sending all my love to her and your family.

    My own mother chose Medical Assistance in Dying (as it is termed here in Canada) once her ALS had progressed. As difficult as losing her was and still is, seeing her die on her terms was beautiful. ALS took so much from her but she got to end her life in control. She always joked that “if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening” and she took that literally when it came to dying. I firmly believe that a death like this is a death with dignity.

  392. Abogado Avocado*

    One other thought and I hope it’s not too macabre, but a book that really comforted me after my parent died was, “Here If You Need Me” by Kate Braestrup. “Living a Year of Kaddish” was helpful, as was Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” but there is something about the Rev. Braestrup’s authorial voice that soothed me.

    Now a chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, the Rev. Braestrup was suddenly widowed when her husband (a state trooper) was in a car accident while at work. The book is a magnificent meditation on life, death and dying, and, unusually enough, it can be very funny — and not in a black humor sort of way. I also love the Rev. Braestrup’s voice in reading the book and listen to it again, at least once a year, to absorb her wisdom (as well as to fantasize that, if we ever met, we’d be friends.)

    Once more, hugs to you and to your mama.

  393. Ren*

    I’m so very sorry Alison – your Mom sounds like an amazing person and I wish you all peace and strength. I will call my MA legislators about our state’s proposed bill.

  394. SaffyTaffy*

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Alison. What an incredible gift, and what strength it takes, to use your energy at a time like this in hope of helping others.

  395. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    We lost my mother-in-law to pancreatic cancer 7 years ago Tuesday. I am so sorry to hear this.

  396. Just Another Cog*

    This is such sad news! No one deserves this. I am so sorry for your Mom, you, and your family, Alison. It’s good she can go somewhere relatively close to legally choose how she finishes her time here, but also unconscionable that she has to leave her home to do so. Having lost a parent to a devastating disease, I can relate somewhat, but everyone experiences things like this differently. I hope your Mom has way more good days than bad. Just know there are people out here who are thinking of you.

  397. Rocky Mountain (not) High*

    I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I lost my mom in 2018 to a very rare, very aggressive cancer. We are in Colorado, but I was unaware of the Medical Aid in Dying option here. I don’t know if she would’ve taken it, but I wish we’d known it was an option. Once the dying process started, it was “quick” (~2 weeks) but not peaceful or painless. Best wishes that you and your mom have as much good time together as possible. Huge thanks to her for her efforts to help others have choice in the end-of-life process–a truly great legacy to leave behind.

  398. InfantaM*

    I’m so sorry your mom is going through this, she deserves to live her life how she wants, including how it ends. I feel this so much. My dad has been in chronic pain since the mid 70’s, and one day we anticipate he’ll accidentally take too many meds when the pain becomes too much. He’s the best dad (might be slightly biased here), and I never want it to happen, but it will and he deserves to be at peace when he choses. He’s in Indiana, and all the thanks to your mom for advocating on this issue. Her advocacy might help my dad when the time eventually, inevitably comes.

  399. Sarahh*

    Allison, I am sorry to hear about your mom’s diagnosis. My father passed away due to pancreatic cancer in 2021. He was healthy at his check up in December the year before, diagnosed in March and passed away in June. It’s a horrible disease. People should absolutely have the right to end their lives when they want when faced with such a horrible illness. Caring for my dad was so hard during his final weeks. Thinking of you and your wonderful mom.

  400. Alice*

    I have been thinking about this all day. I am so very sorry. For what little it counts, know that a stranger shares your pain.

  401. bmorepm*

    So sorry to hear this. Wishing your mom dignity and peace in the time she has left and much strength to you all.

  402. Bethaknee*

    I’m very sorry about your mom. This hit hard because my mom was diagnosed last year with pancreatic cancer. She was also in very good health and her doctors were actually baffled when it happened. Sending you love.

  403. River*

    I am deeply sorry about your mom, Alison. Sending you a virtual *hug*. Hoping your mom lives out the rest of her life peacefully. Bless.

  404. Pop_Vulture*

    I’m so sorry, Alison. I’m grateful to your mom for the advocacy she’s done, and sorry that it turns out to be something that impacts her (and you) personally.

  405. Lori*

    I’m so sorry Alison, what terrible news. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts during this difficult time. Your mom sounds like a pistol (and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways)

  406. Danielle*

    Alison, I’m so sorry that you are going through this. Even though your mom has to move to D.C., I’m so happy that she has the option to make that choice and will have ownership over how she wants to spend the last few months of her life. I know all to well the horrors of metastatic pancreatic cancer and the painful death it entails. My mom was diagnosed in November 2020 and passed away in July 2021. My mom was a fighter and she fought with everything she had to win the battle, but as you said, it is painful, it can be prolonged, and it is almost impossible. Seeing her go through that was one of the worst experiences of my life and, while it is sad that she is leaving her home, I am so glad that she will be able to follow her own path.

  407. Katie*

    My mom’s best friend, who I considered a second mom, died from pancreatic cancer and had the pill “just in case” as well. She died in April 2020, not able to have visitors outside of her husband and daughters and my mom, scared of the pandemic, not ready to go. Anything that gave her peace in those last days is a blessing. I’m sorry your mom is going through this and sorry you are as well. It’s profoundly unfair that there are almost never symptoms of pancreatic cancer until it’s progressed.

  408. Cranky Kate*

    I’m so sorry to hear this, and I hope your mom’s remaining days are pain-free and her passing is peaceful.

  409. steff*

    Allison, thank you for sharing this with us! You are stronger than you think you are. I am holding you, your mom, and your sister in my thoughts. If you feel up to it, please share how you are feeling and how things are going.

  410. kethryvis*

    My dad died of metastatic pancreatic cancer last spring. He told me that when it got to that point, he wanted to have this option. Sadly, the cancer took that decision from him, as he passed barely three weeks after we got the diagnosis. I wish he had the time, as his passing would have been so much more peaceful than what it was.

    I have so much empathy for you and your family, and so thankful for the work your mom has done. Everyone should have the option to die with dignity. I’m so sorry your mom has to deal with a move on top of her illness just so she can have her choice. Love to you and your family through all of this, and I hope for peace for all of you.

  411. IrishEm*

    I’m sorry about your mom. I’m dealing with a degenerative condition and honestly debating moving to Switzerland to have control of my own destiny. I believe that people need to make decisions about the end of their lives. I wish your mom a gentle time and no pain.

    1. TrixieD*

      One of the most riveting programs I’ve ever watched was on PBS’ Frontline. It was called “The Suicide Tourist,” and it’s the story of a man with ALS who moved to Switzerland in order to die on his own terms. It’s inspiring and breathtaking and poignant and heart wrenching, all at once. I donated to Dignitas after watching the program. I wish you peace in all that’s yet to come, IrishEm.

  412. TrixieD*

    I work with a lot of hospice patients who are within days of passing; they are generally at peace, and surrounded by family and friends who have loved them through good and bad.
    I hope your mom is able to attain that peace and support as she enters the final stage of her well-lived life.
    You and your family have my deepest sympathies, Alison.

  413. L'étrangère*

    I’m so sorry… Wishing you and your mom both courage and relative peace for the remaining time.
    Could it be that she would be able to go to a hospice in DC when she needs to, without having to move first? Maybe a blog reader would supply a legal address for her to reside at in DC if that’d help? Nobody should have to deal with packing when they’re ill.
    I live in California, but our county only has a single doctor who actually provides this very much needed service. That’s because the main hospital forces doctors to sign adherence to their fundamentalist beliefs in order to get admitting privileges, so if you’re having serious pregnancy issues or something like that you’re automatically on your way to LA. And I’d add that every single senior facility in the county is owned by the same ‘nonprofit’ religious corporation. The law is the first step, but watch out for implementation too..

  414. Momma Bear*

    Pancreatic cancer is a tough one. I’m sorry your mom and family are facing such a hard time. I hope you all get the support you need.

  415. tsumommy*

    I’m so proud of your mom fighting for this vital legislation, and I’m so sorry she has to do it while living with cancer, herself. Hugs to both your mom and you.

  416. ArtsNerd*

    My mother also died from pancreatic cancer. I so wish this was an option for her.

    Your mother is awesome and I’m glad she’s taking control of her end-of-life care, not to mention her advocacy. Hang in there.

  417. Happy Pineapple*

    I’m so sorry your mom, you, and your family have to fight these battles; both the cancer and the right to bodily autonomy.

  418. yirna*

    Medically Assistance In Dying (MAID) was made legal in Canada several years ago. Since then, both my aunt and now her husband have had to make the hard choices to go out on their own terms when faced with a terminal diagnosis and a steadily decreasing quality of life. At some point, the pain management is not sustainable, and the chance to say goodbye when you still have your wits and sense of self seems to have provided both of them and their family with comfort and relief. My poor cousins though….

    My condolences to both you and your mom. In hard times like these, it becomes clear what kind of mark someone has left on the world: your mom is clearly someone who had chosen to be an advocate and raise an advocate. Kindness begets kindness, and the way you talk about your mom says kind things.

    I hope that you that your mom will be able to make the most of the time she has left with you, without any added stress. I’m sure everyone in the comment section will be sending best wishes.

  419. irritable vowel*

    I’m really sorry, Alison. I cared for someone who died from cancer much too young, and as a result it seems so clear that there’s no such thing as “every day is precious” when it includes unrelenting physical and emotional suffering. My understanding of how these laws actually work in reality is that unfortunately, the process of requesting the medication is so arduous and complex that patients end up dying before they get approved. Very few people actually get the medication – probably intentionally so on the part of lawmakers. So even in states where the legislation exists, there’s so much room for making it more useable by those who need it.

  420. Mary*

    I’m so sorry to hear this about your mom, Alison. I got the shocking news on Saturday that my father has kidney cancer. So far, we know that it has spread to his renal vein and some adjacent bone. He’s had so, so many heart problems over the years that I’ve been prepared for his death many times, but I’m still reeling from this news. We’re comforting ourselves that at least we will have a timeline and a chance to say goodbye. I’m saying this here because I work remotely and have few friends, and just don’t know where else to say it.

  421. EggyParm*

    That’s absolutely heartbreaking and cruel. I hope we can expand this legislation to give people the dignity they deserve.

  422. a*

    I’m so sorry – your mom sounds pretty amazing. I’m glad she has the option to move to a place where she can choose her ending. I hope her story helps fuel the fight for everyone to have that ability.

  423. Her Blondeness*

    Alison, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, but I bet she is proud of you for advocating for death with dignity (even if, based on the column you linked from 2018, she’d never outright tell you that!).

    My mother died in December of a long, debilitating disease. She wouldn’t have wanted to live that long in a diminished condition, but our state did not have assisted suicide or death with dignity before her condition worsened. It is something that is heartbreaking and infuriating at the same time.

    I sincerely hope the rest of your time with your mother will create even more good memories for you to keep in your heart forever.

  424. Inthedeserrt*

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I appreciate your moms dedication during this difficult time.

  425. it's a name*

    oh Allison. I am so sorry—i’m sending my love to you and your mom, and the rest of her family and friends. thank you for sharing her work with this organization with us. <3

  426. Nicole*

    “They just want to know they have that control.”

    This speaks to me because my dad, who has stage IV cancer, said the exact same thing. We live in Canada, where MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) has been legal since June 2016. Cancer has taken so much from him, so having that tiny bit of control has been so beneficial to his mental health. He doesn’t want to die, but knows it’s coming, and has seen others suffer terribly, so I don’t blame him for not wanting the same fate.

    Sending you & your family support and wishing you all peace.

  427. Betsy S.*

    I’m so very sorry . Your mom sounds like a wonderful woman (I am not surprised!) and absolutely agree that everyone deserves this right. Wishing her smooth sailing.

  428. Marianne Soucy*

    I am so sorry about your mom’s diagnosis. I will send a note to my NH representatives in her honor (It is a very worthy legislation to support on its own merits as well).
    May her time left be peaceful and on her own terms.

  429. Wyn*

    I don’t have the words to express how very, very sorry I am that you and your beloved mom are facing this. I so hope she gets what she needs to be at peace, and that you get support to get through it.

  430. Glacier*

    I’m so very sorry to hear about your mom. I fully support the work she has been and continues to do, and am sending tons of well wishes her way.

    I know this is the very last thing most would want to hear (having someone on the internet say, “hey, take this thing it’ll help,” when you’ve shared something so intimate and difficult), but I wanted to write to say that my father-in-law received a similar diagnosis (Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, 3-6 months to live, not a candidate for the Whipple procedure), and he lived another 5 years. We are in San Diego, CA and he connected with an oncologist doing a clinical study on a new type of drug to treat pancreatic cancer. I’m happy to ask for more information from my mother-in-law if you’re interested.

    Again, sending strength to you, your mom, and your family.

    Take care.

  431. Luna*

    It’s horrible that this is happening to you all, my condolences.
    With continued work, hopefully this Medical Aid will become legal in more parts of the world, as it is something that can even leave a bit of dignity to someone. I hope things will go on without unnecessary pain for her.

  432. Bluebell*

    Alison, I’m so sorry to hear about this. From the yoga to her sense of humor, she sounds like such a vibrant and strong woman, and obviously passed on many good qualities to you. I hope that her move goes smoothly, as well as the next stages in her journey. I will contact my state reps, as I live in MA. I recently read Elizabeth McCracken’s novel/memoir about her mother, The Hero of this Story, and loved this quote: “We’re not our souls, we’re not our bodies; we’re the shimmering border between.” May she continue to shimmer, until she is ready to depart. (That book is excellent, but is guaranteed to make *anyone* cry buckets, but also laugh too.)

  433. Gimble*

    I’m so sorry this is happening, and so grateful to your mom for her work in this fight.

    A colleague’s parent is dying in CO now and has a MAiD prescription filled and ready if he wants it. It’s a horrible situation made just a little better by having the option.

    Legislation has recently been introduced in CT again; I hope this this is the year we can pass it.

  434. Anonomatopoeia*

    I’m sorry this is happening. Cancer is the worst (and Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, and… this list is long but I mean, all the diseases that rob us of time and capacity).

    I’m glad she has a plan and your support, and sorry that this cause will lose someone who has done great work. My state is on the right side of history on this so contacting my legislators wouldn’t be useful, but I hope folks in places that haven’t figured out humanity yet get a whole lot of calls and letters from the commentariat.

  435. Zach*

    Oh Alison, I’m so sorry.

    In case the move-to-DC plan falls through, you should know that a bill to remove the residency requirement for Vermont’s MAID law is currently moving though the legislature (passed the House today, Senate expected to take it up mid-March, highly likely to pass). I know that traveling may be the last thing that you want to worry about right now, but know that it at least may be an option in the very near future. The bills are H. 190 and S. 26.

  436. Anonymous For Now*

    Your mom sounds like she’s a wonderful person as well as being a great mom.

    I lost my mother to lung cancer when I was in my 30s and she was in her 60s. She was a nonsmoker. Several years ago, I lost my longtime partner to terminal cancer, though not the pancreatic kind.

    All we can do is enjoy our loved ones for as long as we have them.

  437. on the couch, with the cat*

    I’m sorry about your mom.

    I hope you have good times with her in the days and weeks to come.

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