There is so much more to a person than intellect, physical ability and earning power

Dear Dr. Ferrier,

I wanted to thank you for your very thoughtful article in today's Gazette. It is a topic very dear to my heart and the "news" story on Saturday upset me very much.

I accompanied my father as he declined with Alzheimer's over about ten years. He ended up in care, first at St. Mary's later at the Bayview, because my mother herself was too frail to care for him. We were lucky he recognized us until the end and he was lucky to have a loving family and devoted wife to visit him everyday. We had many of those tender moments with him and my brothers were able to reconcile with him as he grew more mellow.

I was also the primary caregiver for my mother as she battled ovarian cancer shortly after my father passed away. She was able to die at home, surrounded by loved ones and had a chance to say good bye to each family member and most of her friends. She suffered with her chemo treatments, but soldiered on and lived as fully as she could! Her death , like my father's was very peaceful and serene. She often mentioned not wanting to be a burden....but her very wise Palliative Care doctor told her it was time to reap the love that she had shown during her lifetime. And though many parts were difficult for me( I also have six children) there is nothing else I would have wanted to do at that time. It was a privilege for me.

Like you, I wonder how we ever came to describe people as vegetables? We don't think of a newborn baby who is totally dependant as a vegetable, why then , the elderly? There is so much more to a person than intellect, physical ability and earning power.

The professional people who cared for my parents treated them with love and respect and they retained their dignity throughout.

Now, it is my turn to be battling cancer for the past twelve years, I don't know what the future holds for me but I like to hope I will be able to live and love through to my natural end. I've been lucky to have had the support from my family and wonderful caring and tenacious doctors all along.

Thank you for standing up for the weaker people, for trying to make this a more compassionate society. Keep up the good work!