The Last Chapter
October 30, 2019
After his cancer diagnosis in 2009 Phillip Estes decided that, once treatment was no longer viable, he’d exercise his right to Death with Dignity. A decision that his daughter, Linda, supported every step of the way.
While Death with Dignity is legal in the state of Washington, Linda and her father discovered firsthand that people’s access to it isn’t equal. Like many others across the state, they faced immense obstacles in Eastern Washington’s Tri-Cities—from searching for a doctor who was willing to help to traveling over 2 hours for the prescription. Thankfully, Linda and Phillip found much needed support at End of Life Washington. They learned more about Death with Dignity from the website and connected with volunteers who would help through every part of the process, including being just a call away on Phillip’s last day.
“I guess it didn’t occur to me until afterwards how difficult it was…I just found myself so angry that it was legal in the state, but it really depended on what ZIP code you lived in as to whether or not you could get it.”
In 2016, Phillip—an engineer through and through—made up his mind and meticulously planned his final day with his family. Linda spent that last day, like she had the weeks leading up to it, fighting through her emotions and doing everything she could to support her father. She ensured he was comfortable and held his hand as music from The Lion King played and he peacefully drifted to sleep.
Now, Linda works with End of Life Washington—the organization that helped make her father’s choice possible—to make Death with Dignity accessible to every person in our state. She passionately believes that everyone deserves to know their options, should be able to access resources in their area, and should not have to figure it all out alone.
“This is not a choice that’s right for everyone and I am not here to tell you what to do. I’m just here to tell you that this is a choice, it is legal, and if you decide that’s what you want, there is help.”
The Last Chapter: Profiles
After his cancer diagnosis, Charlie knew continuing painful radiation treatment wasn't right for him. He found control over his story by better understanding all of his end-of-life options, including his right to Death with Dignity.
Dr. Bliss is passionate about normalizing the end-of-life conversation. Now, she leads by example—making end-of-life planning part of her routine care—and hopes more providers begin talking to patients about their options.