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Cancer patients thank governor for signing aid-in-dying bill

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Former LAPD Det. Christy O’Donnell, who has lung cancer and few months to live, reacts to the news of Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of the controversial assisted-suicide bill.

Wolf Breiman, 87, suffers from a cancer that he knows may end his life in a painful way, so he said it was a relief to hear that Gov. Jerry Brown decided Monday to give terminally ill patients access to drugs they can use to end their own lives on their own terms.

Breiman, whose disease is currently under control, would not qualify now because he has not been given less than six months to live. If he does qualify eventually, he said he would be prepared to get a prescription under the new law if the pain and and other complications become unbearable.

“Why would I want to suffer?” the retired landscape architect said Monday from his home in Ventura.

Breiman is one of several Californians with incurable diseases who had let Brown know they wanted him to sign the End of Life Option Act. “Eventually, something is going to happen to me,” Breiman said. “It is good to know I have the option.”

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He was particularly impressed with the governor’s thoughtful statement that he signed the bill because if he was facing death he would want the option. Breiman called the written statement a “beautiful and sensitive thing. I’m proud of him.”

Christy O’Donnell, 47, survived a career in the LAPD, but lung cancer has spread to other parts of her body and her doctors say she may have only months to live.

She has attended legislative hearings and rallies seeking approval of the bill.

She cried Monday when she heard the news that Brown had signed the bill, while she was out at lunch with her 21-year-old daughter.

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“All the speaking out I have been doing has been for others because it is unlikely I would live long enough to use it myself because my prognosis is so short,” said O’Donnell, an attorney who lives in Valencia.

“If I were alive when the law was implemented then for me aid-in-dying would be the right choice,” she said. “But I don’t intend to leave any life on the table.”

Elizabeth Wallner, who has stage four cancer, said she too would be open to taking advantage of the new law if it is available and she finds herself in agony.

“Depending on if things got tough, I might get a prescription and I would not rule out taking it,” said the 51-year-old education equity consultant.

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She praised Brown for taking a politically difficult position.

“I’m really grateful for him putting himself out there and taking a stand,” she said.


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