When Kristen Keska’s mother Karen Self-Mann, was diagnosed with a terminal, late-stage cancer, she Kristen wished her mother lived in one of the 10 states and jurisdictions where medical aid in dying was available.

For as long as she can remember, Kristen’s mom told her that if needed, she favored an option to ease suffering at the end of her life. Although she had hospice services, Kristen’s mother suffered in her final days, and Kristen advocates for medical aid in dying today in her memory.

Mike Mizzone, who had been diagnosed with ALS, came to Hartford in 2018 and testified in support of medical aid in dying. He told the Public Health Committee members that he feared choking to death, and wished for an option that would ease his anxiety and give him the option to gently end his suffering.

His wife Jennifer Mizzone says his worst fears were realized, and she continues the fight so that no other family has the same experience. 

Jennifer Barahona’s mother Barbara Donalds was a music director who had raised six children when she was diagnosed with ALS. While her body degenerated, Barbara Donald’s mind stayed sharp and she told Jennifer that she hoped the end would come quickly. Jennifer says the end was not quick or humane, and she hopes lawmakers will have empathy for people who are dying and support medical aid in dying. 

Tim Appleton is Sr. Campaign Director, Compassion & Choices Action Network.