Death is part of life, not something to be ‘gotten over with’
Re the March 24 opinions by various members of a Union College class, I would like to submit a personal story and a reason for continuing to ban “physician-assisted suicide.”
My 92-year-old mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of my parents’ limited mobility, my mother was unable to receive the treatment prescribed by her doctor. Several factors led them to conclude that they would not pursue any further course of action, and my mother was accepted into a local hospice program.
Watching my parents struggle through the last several months has been a cause of great suffering; the effects of old age aggravated by serious illness taking their toll on my mother’s body. There have been days of depression and hopelessness. Many days have been marked by weariness and extreme pain, requiring great effort for even simple movements.
The suffering, however, has not been without value, and in the midst of preparing for my mother’s death, I see such great courage in her and the conviction to make every moment in this life count not just for herself but for others. Mingled in with the difficult days are periods of lucidity and grace. She is actively involved with my daughters’ wedding plans and is energized by visits from her great-granddaughters.
She recalls times past when raising me was a tremendous joy to her, and knowing my adventurous bent I could only wonder at her definition of joy. As she shares her fears, we are sustained by truly holy times of prayer and encouragement. While this may not be everyone’s experience of loving someone through terminal illness or a devastating physical ailment, it should be enough to allow one to pause and reflect on the value of life.
In the opinions supporting “physician-assisted suicide,” great emphasis was placed on individual choice and personal freedom, but all freedoms have limitations and we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to future generations. Life-affirming alternatives exist, and all emphasis and energies in the medical community and society should be devoted to pursuing goals that honor our humanity and promote healing, even when the healing is in the form of care for the dying.
Physicians must hold to standards that [avoid] leading to the devaluation of life and implication in the deaths of countless others. We do not live in isolation, but in community, and therefore have a responsibility to all those whose lives touch ours, directly or indirectly.
I dearly love my mother. She and my father are true heroes to me, and to so many others they have cared for. I will honor her as she lives through the difficult circumstances of her present condition by doing everything I can to see that she is as comfortable as possible and surrounded by love.
And when she dies, I will mourn deeply the loss of her physical presence in my life and honor her memory by affirming the value of every moment she lived on this earth.
Keeping cigarettes out of sight should reduce use
On March 18, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced legislation that would ban the display of tobacco products in all retail establishments in the city. The legislation would require cigarettes and tobacco products to be out of view in an attempt to decrease the targeted marketing of these deadly products to our youth.
The most recent Federal Trade Commission report shows the tobacco industry spends $8.49 billion on marketing tobacco products; $7.9 billion of that is spent directly on point-of-sale marketing. The 2012 surgeon general’s report concluded that this marketing causes youth smoking. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative to protect youth from this addictive product.
Last November, representatives from the Mont Pleasant Boys and Girls Club, the Schenectady Chapter of Girls Inc., and members of the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition walked along Crane Street in Mont Pleasant to see how tobacco is marketed in one of our city neighborhoods.
We took particular notice of the number of tobacco retailers in that community and their proximity to schools. We counted over seven retailers that sold tobacco within a half-mile of the Hamilton Elementary School and the Mont Pleasant Middle School. We passed tobacco marketing on windows and saw large tobacco displays in gas stations, convenience stores, beauty shops and dollar stores. This extensive marketing of tobacco products gives the impression that cigarettes are a normal, safe product with few, if any, negative consequences.
Mayor Bloomberg knows that tobacco is not a normal product. It’s a product that, when used as intended, causes disease and death. Keeping cigarettes out of view of our youth will help us raise a tobacco-free generation and improve the health and well being of our communities.
The writer is director of the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition,
SHS guidance counselor was right about students
Megan Quivey’s March 20 letter, “Those who judge SHS students don’t know them,” should inspire the entire city.
As a Schenectady High School guidance counselor, Ms. Quivey sees every day that the school district and its student body are assets that make our community stronger.
Schenectadians tend to be their own worst enemies, perpetuating negative stereotypes and misconceptions. That needs to stop if we are to move forward.
The city has made great strides in recent years and its schools — thanks to the district’s energetic new leadership and enlightened, caring staff like Ms. Quivey — are rapidly catching up. That’s good news for all city residents.
The writer is media relations manager for the New York State United Teachers union.
Leaders must listen to constituents, not state
Supervisor Daniel L. Singletary’s (R-Jefferson, Schoharie County) statement that his authority is derived from New York state government is mind boggling [March 16 Gazette]!
His position as supervisor is derived from the people of the town of Jefferson, and I hope this is brought to his attention at his next election.
I spent 22 years as an elected official in a small area town, and I listened to my voters — not good old New York state. After all, just look at New York state: Do you really think they are truly representing you?
Remember, it is “we the people.”
The Gazette wants your opinions on public issues.
There is no strict word limit, though letters under 200 words are preferred.
All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.
Please include your signature, address and day phone for verification.
For information on how to send, see bottom of this page.
For more letters, visit our Web site: www.dailygazette.com.