Mom wants to die? A terminally ill mother is among three plaintiffs who recently sued the state of California for the right to end their lives.
On Friday, 46-year-old Christy Lynne Donorovich-O’Donnell of Valencia and two others diagnosed with advanced cancer filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court seeking access to medication that would bring about a “quick and peaceful death,” according to the language of the lawsuit.
Lawyers representing both the three cancer sufferers and an Oregon-based group called Compassion & Choices describe their civil action brought against the state, as a means to: “vindicate the liberty, autonomy and privacy rights of terminally ill persons and their doctors to make compassionate end-of-life decisions without fear of criminal prosecution.
They refer to the medical practice of offering “mentally competent, terminally ill patients” medication as “aid in dying.”
O’Donnell was unable to speak to The Signal Tuesday because she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment, said Patricia A. Gonzalez-Portillo, spokeswoman for Compassion & Choices.
Gonzalez-Portillo suggested watching the YouTube video produced by the group which opens on a scene of O’Donnell in the backyard of her home with her 20-year-old daughter, Bailey.
In the video, O’Donnell explains how despite a healthy lifestyle of exercise and eating right – and never having smoked – she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
“I’ve lived 10 people’s lives in my 46 years. I’ve had the joy of motherhood, which has been the greatest love of my life,” she says in the online video.
“So, because of that, I’m not afraid to die. But not being afraid to die is not the same as wanting to die. I don’t want to die.
“I’ve been a Christian my whole entire life and I am today. I believe in God. I pray. And, I have an entire support system that prays for me,” she says.
In the video, O’Donnell – with her daughter, Bailey, red-eyed and sitting quietly by her side – describes her painful weekly ordeal of ongoing chemotherapy treatment.
“The most likely way that I’m going to die with the lung cancer is that my left lung will fill with fluid, I’ll start drowning in my own fluid,” O’Donnell says in the video.
“No parent wants to be lying on the floor, knowing their child is going to come home and find them dead,” she said on the video. “And every day when my daughter is driving home from work she calls me on the phone to talk to me. You know why? Because she wants to know before she gets home, if I’m still alive.”
At that point in the video, O’Donnell’s daughter explains the toll the ordeal has had on her.
“It’s the most difficult thing ever,” Bailey says. “To see your mom slowly dying, essentially. It’s difficult.”
The other plaintiffs in the suit are identified as Elizabeth Wallner, of Sacramento, who suffers from stage 4 colon cancer and Wolf Alexander Breiman, a man who lives in Ventura, suffering with multiple myeloma and blood cancer.
A fourth plaintiff in the case is San Diego doctor Lynette Cederquist who, according to the lawsuit, would “be willing to write a prescription for medication to terminally ill, competent adults who, at their own discretion, could exercise the option to self-administer the drug.”
Cederquist is a board certified physician in internal medicine as well as hospice and palliative medicine, and is a clinical professor of medicine.