Cancer Patient Cancels Living Will

Says Many Support Euthanasia for Others, Not Self

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By Antonio Gaspari

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 28, 2008 (Zenit.org).- People in favor of euthanasia often support it "for others," without thinking about the end of their own lives, contends a cancer patient who changed her mind about life after she was diagnosed with her terminal disease.

Silvie Menard, a French oncologist and consultant at the Center of Experimental Oncology of the National Institute of Tumors in Milan, Italy, spoke of her change of perspective in a conference at the Rimini meeting organized by Communion and Liberation. The annual meeting is under way through Saturday.

She said she had arranged for a living will, but as soon as she discovered that she was ill with cancer, she changed her mind.

Menard, a specialist in the study of cancer and the new medicines to combat it, said that after years of work with gravely ill people, she was in favor of living wills. But when she discovered that she herself had a bone marrow tumor, her life "took on a different meaning."

"Since knowing that I am sick, I feel like living every instant of my life, precisely because I realize that it is the only one I have," she said.

Doubts

Menard said that at first she had doubts about whether or not she should undergo treatment -- doubts she said assail every patient.

She knew it was very difficult to be cured, but "incurable is different from untreatable," she specified.

In regard to proposals for euthanasia and living wills, Menard said at a press conference that "many in Italy are in favor of euthanasia for others; they don't think about the end of their own life."

"I can tell you that when one is healthy, one does not know how one will react in the case of sickness; that is why the testament written by a healthy person is meaningless," she added.

Menard explained that she is "opposed to euthanasia because the right to die then runs the risk of becoming a duty."

During the same conference, Giancarlo Cesana, professor of Applied General Hygiene of the University of Milan, explained that "life is a mystery. We feel it, we perceive it, but we haven't created it, because it is something infinite and hence not measurable."

"Medicine," the professor added, "was born in the Middle Ages to do what was offered in the classical era: to cure. […] If this is impeded, medicine is finished."