A former US Marine who was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer has spoken out about his fight for life and why he rejects assisted suicide.
Diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and given four months to live back in May 2014, JJ Hanson fell into an overwhelming depression.
He was told by three separate doctors that there was nothing that could be done, but he refused to give up hope, determined to spend as long as he could with his wife and child.
Hanson managed to find a doctor who performed life-saving brain surgery, and now three years on there is no trace of his cancer. He said: “Every single part of my day, I spend towards improving my ability to live”.
He compared his case to that of Brittany Maynard, who opted for doctor-assisted suicide in Oregon aged 29 when battling the same disease.
“Every single part of my day, I spend towards improving my ability to live”.
He said that while he could identify with her, he was glad he had not made the same choice.
“I’m thankful I don’t live in a state like Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal”, he said. “In that moment of depression, I might have chosen to end my life”.
The former Iraq veteran advises those considering assisted suicide to fight, rather than to give in to the temptation to give up. “You can’t unmake that choice,” he warned. “Once you do it, it’s done.”
He said that even if he had ended his life, his family would still bear the pain, saying his wife would feel it for the rest of her life and that his son would be forever without a father.
Hanson set up the Patients’ Rights Action Fund which aims to protect the rights of patients, people with disabilities, and others targeted by assisted suicide legislation.
“How can we let our life-and-death decisions rest on these prognoses, when even the most experienced doctors are often wrong?” he asked.
“Every single day is a gift,” he concluded, “and you can’t let that go.”