Guest Columnist

Scared of suffering, but not death

In support of the Iowa End-of-Life Options Act

I have been prepared for death for a very long time.

Throughout my life, I have had to deal with four types of cancer: uterine, skin, breast, and lung cancer. I was just 26 years-old — and pregnant — when first diagnosed with uterine cancer.

In December, doctors found an early cancer marker in my blood. I’m crossing my fingers that it’s not cancer once again. If it is, I do not want to endure more surgeries, more chemo and more pain.

Death does not scare me. Needless suffering does.

Don’t get me wrong. I love life. But when my time comes, I do not want to be connected to machines and tubes that will cause more pain to my 70-year-old body. I want to die peacefully, surrounded by my children and precious grandchildren holding my hand.

I am relieved legislators in Iowa are considering a bill that would allow terminally ill people to decide how and when they die, when death is inevitable.

The Iowa End-of-Life Options Act would allow terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take themselves to help them die peacefully in their sleep if their pain becomes unbearable.

I watched my granddaughter Jenna suffer in horror before her last days in hospice. Nothing seemed to alleviate the torture to her frail body. Jenna was only 22 years-old when she died in 2015.

My daughter, Jenna’s mother, pleaded for anything that would take away her pain.

I strongly believe Iowans living with a terminal condition should have the option — when the time comes — to make the end-of-life care decisions that are right for them.

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I understand this end-of-life care option may not be for everyone. Many terminally ill people have different opinions about what decisions are right for them in the final stages of a terminal illness. But as a woman who respects other people’s faiths, I believe it is not for me to judge someone else.

The harsh reality is that no matter how hard we try, we cannot escape the cycle of life and death. I believe that when the time comes when we can’t bear the suffering any longer, we all should have the option to die peacefully.

I urge Iowa legislators to do the right thing. Pass this compassionate legislation so the people of Iowa are not forced to suffer like my granddaughter Jenna did.

Luanna Raushenberger is a mother and grandmother who lives in West Des Moines.

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