By Jesse Ankerholz
I’ve traveled 1000’s of miles throughout the U.S. sharing the story of my spouse Andrea Ankerholz, who died on August 6, 2021. After exhausting all therapy choices for the terminal most cancers she lived with, she selected to make the most of the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act and died peacefully at house surrounded by love. With the primary anniversary of her loss of life simply handed, I can’t fathom what these last weeks would have regarded like with out this selection.
I met Andrea in 2010, on a job web site in Denver. She labored on the salon subsequent door, and after correcting the haircut one other stylist botched, Andrea stole my quantity from the contact sheet and requested me out. She all the time knew what she needed, and was by no means afraid to inform me how she felt; that was a part of what made our marriage so loving and our bond so particular.
In the summertime of 2020, 4 years after a double mastectomy, Andrea came upon her most cancers was again and had unfold. Her oncologist gave her six to 12 months. She agreed to therapy that would give us a bit extra time collectively, which she endured with grueling uncomfortable side effects.
Andrea feared spending her final days in a hospital. A couple of months into therapy, Andrea researched her end-of-life choices, and she or he discovered about medical support in dying. She needed to pursue the choice, and I supported her as she informed her docs and family members.
The Colorado Finish-of-Life Choices Act permits terminally in poor health adults the chance to, following a prolonged course of, request a prescription they could take to finish their struggling peacefully. This medical observe is allowed in Colorado, alongside 9 states and the District of Columbia. Sadly, Andrea found that even with coverage in place, sufferers could battle to entry care.
In early 2021, each of Andrea’s docs, who beforehand agreed to jot down her prescription, all of the sudden modified their minds with no clarification. This determination was devastating and particularly merciless for an individual so near the top. Now terrified of extended struggling, she tried to deal with saying her goodbyes, having fun with her final days and selecting mementos to depart family members.
Andrea was overwhelmed by concern and frustration till she linked with a consultant from the End of Life Options Consultation program at Compassion & Selections, a nationwide end-of-life choices nonprofit. They compiled an inventory of suppliers in Colorado for Andrea to contact, and she or he discovered a doctor at Denver Well being to help her. As quickly as she bought the medicine, Andrea felt unbelievable aid. That aid allowed her to deal with having fun with the life she had left.
When August got here, Andrea knew it was time.
Although the mosquitoes made our yard uncomfortable, Andrea needed to observe the sundown collectively on her final day. I fortunately endured the bites to observe the solar go down from our rocking swing. Andrea ingested her medicine at 9:30 p.m. on August fifth, and was asleep inside a few minutes. She handed away 4 hours later at 1:30 a.m. on August sixth, 2021.
Quickly, I launched into a 17-day highway journey throughout the U.S. to ship the mementos Andrea left behind, and unfold a few of her ashes — simply as I promised. For the reason that day she died, I’ve shared Andrea’s story with anybody who will pay attention. I need different folks to know their choices, be direct with their docs and speak to their family members about their needs.
In just some months I shall be in Loch Skeen, Scotland — a location Andrea dreamed of visiting — the place I’ll hike an hour into the sky, bringing her with me.
I miss Andrea daily however am so pleased with the way in which she lived her life and the vulnerability she shared earlier than her loss of life. Having management over her final days made all of the distinction to Andrea. Everybody deserves not simply this feature, however clear info and high quality care that honors their life.
Jesse Ankerholz is a enterprise proprietor dwelling in Silverthorne, Colorado.