“There were not a lot of resources to help us through this choice, VSED. I want others to have resources and know there are choices at end of life.”
Episode 32: Phyllis Shacter, Author/ Advocate of VSED
When you share a special connection with your husband, how do you prepare yourself to advocate and support him in his choice to end his life on his own terms?
Phyllis Shacter and her husband, Alan, shared 26 years together. They worked together, played together and were spiritually connected through their love of music and laughter. When Alan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and cancer, only six weeks apart, Phyllis stood by his side every step of the way. Using alternative means, he received a clean bill of health from his oncologist. Then the Alzheimer’s soon got noticeably worse.
Alan knew this battle could not be won. Witnessing his mother suffer as she lived into the late stages of Alzheimer’s, he knew he wanted to redesign his own end of life in the face of his degenerative disease.
Alan and Phyllis researched end of life options. They learned about the choice of Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED). Alan created a plan to stop eating and drinking when the time was right for him. With Phyllis as his unyielding advocate, Alan began to VSED and in a period of nine days, he died peacefully at home with Phyllis by his side, talking to him and loving him.
The option to VSED is not widely known, but Phyllis is changing that. She is the author of Choosing to Die: A Personal Story, a memoir and guidebook to choosing VSED as an end of life elective death. She is a frequent speaker and has been featured in The Art of Dying Magazine. She is available for interviews, presentations and speaking engagements. View Phyllis’ TEDxBellingham presentation, “Not Here by Choice,” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiYPaU3h3w8.
Today we talk to Phyllis Shacter about her great love, Alan, and how she became an advocate for VSED and expanding end of life choices.