Miss Myrtle’s End of Life Decision
Dear Family, Friends and Twitter Resistance Family,
Am an intensely private person, but the events of the past 5 years have made me revisit that fact. The World has changed forever, and we have changed with it.
Cancer has played a big part of my life for the past 20 years. Tree major cancer surgeries over that time period, each for a different cancer, have finally worn me down.
Am a fighter, not a quitter but my final surgery last November solved one problem, but created many more serious ones. Add to that while the 35 rounds of radiation a year ago solved no problems, it too created more serious ones.
Cancer research and surgery have blinkers on – they focus on narrow areas they are familiar with
Why has there been no research on the effects of chemo and radiation on menopausal and post-menopausal women??!!! But I digress.
Am so very lucky to live in a Country and a city where the Medical Assistance in Dying Program is an option
The Cancer on the Presidency has contributed to my bad health, and am willing to bet that it has affected you adversely too.
I have lived a long and interesting life. Have faced battles since being born as a premature baby. Am a fighter – Not a quitter, but have finally met a challenge I cannot win.
There is no way to sugar-coat this. Was in hospital for major cancer surgery, then Palliative Care at home. While the surgery killed my tumor, it also created more serious problem. I had an anal rectal carcinoma, and now have a stoma – colonoscopy bag.
My initial gut reaction (pun intended) when the surgeon made his case to have surgery, was no. The young arrogant surgeon laid it out this way: “ No surgery, 6months to a year to live. With surgery, complete cure and 10years to live.”
I initially said no, because my last major cancer surgery and chemotherapy regime resulted in an acquired brain injury in 2014. The brain injury went undiagnosed for a number of years, and turned my life upside down.
I kept falling and breaking things at different times. Broke my collarbone, wrist, fractured the kneecap, then a medial malleolus fracture of the ankle. Was in a full leg walking cast for 6 months.
Was wobbly on my feet, sometimes slurred my words, forgot to go to meetings, forgot what was said at meetings, forgot to pay bills, forgot appointments and forgot parts of speeches I’d been giving for years. Forgot to pay rent and was eventually evicted. Slept in my car and office. My behaviour was bizarre. I almost single-handedly turned a successful project into a failure.
Colleagues began whispering that I was on drugs or alcohol. I was eventually fired. It was only when a friend of mine forced me to tell her what wrong- she was sure something was was. City Councillor Adriane Carr immediately intervened. She introduced me to the Deputy Director of Social Development for the City of Vancouver. Jennifer Standeven held my hand and fast-tracked me for government financial and other support. She found a wonderful condo mixed-market apartment in the Olympic Village. I could walk almost everywhere and am close to buses and Sky Train and the Canada Line. In 150 steps, am on the seawall. The market value of my suite is over $2,500 per month. I pay $343 per month. Jennifer literally saved my life, and we are now good friends.
A year later, was finally diagnosed with the brain injury. Was fast-tracked for the GF Strong Acquired Brain Injury program. AS an out-patient went three times a week. For the next year, learned how to walk, talk, be steady on my feet and so much more. GF Strong is the gold-standard for rehab in North America. Mine was an invisible wound. When I’d walk into the rehab, people were whizzing around in their wheelchairs, shouting “Hi, have a good one!”. People with no arms, no legs, both, a Pakistani woman whose face was destroyed with acid. They all inspired me to stop feeling sorry for myself – and kick my own butt (while I still had one).
I have finally found the fight I could NOT win. I would rather go with all of my mental faculties in tact, than face a long, drawn out painful death, where I would end up hating everyone.
I am proud to say that I am donating my body to University of British Columbia Medical School for teaching and research. Truly hope that All of You Will Consider doing the same thing. The need is so great, not just for organs but for bodies.
That being said, as my extended family, I send you the biggest hugs and Much Love,
Miss Myrtle (aka Pat Bayes – our secret),