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Sierra Bay

I watched her get slower, thinner, weaker. I watched her stop eating.

I held her and kissed her and told her she'd done her job here - she taught us selflessness, unconditional love, and responsibility. She kept us safe and watched over us and guarded my bedside after every surgery and each treatment. She made us laugh and she chased rabbits and gave big kisses.

I told her it was okay to go.

We did the humane thing, we held her as our vet administered a simple shot allowing her to go into a deep sleep before the final shot was given. Surrounded by love she died peacefully and with dignity, when the pain and illness became too much to bear, when we knew there'd be no rebounding because her kidneys had shut down.

We did this out of love. We did this because her golden eyes begged us with a look of, 'help me' so eerily similar to the look I've seen as I've said my farewells to many of my sistahs as I held their hand and watched as they wasted away in a cold hospital room surrounded by beeping machines and harsh lights, their bodies unable to fend off the cancer a moment longer. But there was little humanity for them, only suffering, only enough meds to 'take the edge off' because if we treated our terminally ill with the same compassion we treat our pets it's considered murder.

I'm not writing this to be disrespectful to our hospice care workers (because they are amazing and selfless) or to equate a human life to that of an animal's but to re-evaluate how we handle end of life decisions.

I'm not stage 4 but I know enough about this disease and my specific diagnosis to know that could change in 5, 10, or 20 years. There must be better and more comprehensive choices for us. Personally, I don't want to suffer and 'tough it out' as my body shuts down - surviving simply because my heart is strong and still beating. When the time comes and the pain is unbearable and I'm just existing I will designate a loved one to do what our government deems illegal in my state and most others. I will procure the correct medication and I will know when it's time. It's a choice I deserve to make along with my family and medical team. It's humane and compassionate ...

I deserve to die as I lived, in control and with dignity.

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