Medical Aid in Dying advocates optimistic in new session

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB)- Susan Rahn lives in three-month blocks. That’s how often she has PET scans; depending on what doctors find, she has to prepare for a different fate.

Rahn has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.

The Rochester wife and mother is an advocate for Medical Aid in Dying. She started speaking out on the issue about a year after her diagnosis, when Brittany Maynard’s story went national. Maynard, a newlywed from California, moved to Oregon to access Medical Aid in Dying after being diagnosed with incurable brain cancer.

We first spoke to Rahn in May. The woman we met was a fighter; she wore her armor on her wrist, in the form of a tattoo, reminding her that “brave girls are enough.”

Despite being 40 pounds thinner, that fighter isn’t backing into her corner yet.

“This isn’t something I want my son to have to watch when I run out of options,” Rahn told us.

She plans to fight her illness until the end, but said when that fight is done, she wants to die on her terms.

“Medical Aid in Dying is all about patient autonomy,” said Corinne Carey with Compassion & Choices.

The non-profit works to move Medical Aid in Dying legislation forward.

“It’s about allowing a person to make an affirmative request, no one can suggest this to someone,” Carey said.

That request comes in the form of a prescription. It’s a prescription Rahn said she’s not even sure she’d take if she had it, but she wants the option.

So far, only six states allow Medical Aid in Dying.

The Mayor of Washington DC recently signed a Death With Dignity Act, but that’s now being fought in Congress.

Carey is confident New York will eventually pass the bill, she’s just not sure when.

“I know the work ahead of us for our campaign and for our supporters is sitting down individually with each one of those law makers and that takes time.”

Last session, New York’s bill passed in the Assembly’s Health Committee. Rahn wants to speak more this session, and hopes to even address Governor Cuomo personally.

The bill isn’t without it’s opponents, the Catholic Church for example.

After losing friends and family members to terminal illness, most recently a close friend to brain cancer, Rahn wants people to understand why this choice is necessary.

“My son is 17 at this point, he’s going to be graduating from high school. I know that I won’t be around when he graduates from medical school and I don’t want to negate all of the awesome memories that he and I have together.”

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