Last year, as the media focused on a young California woman with terminal brain cancer who wanted to commit doctor-prescribed suicide, a young husband and father learned that he had the same horrible disease.
Doctors diagnosed J.J. Hanson with stage four glioblastoma multiforme, the same terminal cancer that young suicide victim Brittany Maynard had, Live Action News reports. Hanson, like Maynard, was told that the cancer was not treatable and he only had a few months to live.
“[Brittany] took her cancer story public, and it was used to headline a national effort to ‘normalize’ assisted suicide; a notion that had previously been rejected by dozens of states,” Hanson wrote in a recent column for the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “The message sent to patients across the country, who, like me, wanted to fight and live was now — ‘assisted suicide may be the best option for you.’ I recognized this as a huge danger.”
Hanson, a Marine Corps veteran, thought he was in good health, until one day at a business meeting in Many 2014 when he “suddenly felt something go horribly wrong.” An ambulance rushed Hanson to the hospital, where doctors discovered that he had two lesions in his brain. Doctors told him and his wife, Kris, that the cancer was capable of doubling in size in two weeks – and inoperable.
Hanson said he refused to give up hope. He and his wife traveled to doctor after doctor until one agreed to treat him. The young husband and father had brain surgery, followed by radiation, chemotherapy and a clinical trial for a new experimental drug, he said.
“There were days when I completely lost all of my most basic physical abilities. I couldn’t talk, walk, read or write,” Hanson wrote in the recent column. “I fought for treatment that was so difficult there were times when I questioned if the struggle was worth the pain.”
It was. Just Christmas this year, Hanson posted a video on YouTube to announce that he was in remission – 20 months after being told he was going to die. In the video, Hanson encouraged other cancer victims to keep hoping.
If doctor-prescribed suicide had been legal in his state, Hanson said he easily could have succumbed to the same fate as Brittany Maynard, who committed suicide with a lethal drug prescribed by a doctor on Nov. 2, 2014 in Oregon.
Maynard campaigned for legalized assisted suicide before her death. Although cancer patients and pro-life groups tried to talk her out of the decision, it later appeared that Maynard may have either been used by assisted suicide advocates to promote their agenda or may have been a part of a plan working in concert with them to attempt to legalize assisted suicide in additional states. Her tragic death was used to push a new doctor-prescribed suicide law in California.
Dozens more states have introduced assisted suicide legislation since Maynard’s suicide. A New Jersey bill to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide recently failed, while the New York bill is still being considered. Currently, doctor-prescribed suicide is legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California.
Hanson said he sometimes wonders what would have happened if he had access to assisted suicide drugs.
“I would have lost the opportunity to make memories with my wife and son,” Hanson wrote. “I was terminal and I qualified under the New Jersey proposal, and a similar bill offered in New York. Assisted suicide is a decision that you can’t unmake. My wife would be without a husband and my son without a father.”
Hanson now serves as the president of the Patients Rights Action Fund, which works to protect vulnerable human beings from the threat of assisted suicide. He said he hopes his story will inspire others facing terminal illnesses to not lose hope or throw away their lives.
“Without a doubt, people similar to me facing desperate situations will feel like assisted suicide is their only option,” Hanson wrote. “In our society we should be focused on giving hope to the vulnerable and the sick at their greatest time of need, not taking hope away.”