I Did it My Way: Stories about Creating a Life – and Death – On Your Own Terms
Comedienne and safe sex lecturer Maria Falzone was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer.
“I posted on Facebook that I had four to six months of life and that I loved my life and I wasn’t going to do chemo and that I had no regrets and that I loved everyone. Over 600 people responded and told me how much they loved me,” she said.
Maria also shared how she began planning for her death by forming her will and naming a health care agent.
As a critical care and pulmonary physician, Dr. Heidi Abdelhady realized how important naming a health care agent was when her father told her he never wanted to be one of her patients. “I don’t want artificial means to prolong my life and when the time comes, I go on my terms, comfortable and dignified,” he said.
Despite reviewing the advance directives of her end of life patients in the ICU and acting as her father’s health care agent, it wasn’t until a disease threatened her own life that Dr. Abdelhady decided to name her health care agent. “Actually having to think about my own mortality in a very raw and real sense changed the way I practice and changed the way I approach my patients and their families,” she said.
Ms. Falzone and Dr. Abdelhady were two of seven storytellers who shared their personal accounts of how they are living their best lives at “I Did It My Way: Stories about Creating a Life – and Death – On Your Own Terms,” an inspiring, sold out event with over 250 attendees presented by Speak(easy) Howard and The Stoop Storytelling Series on Nov. 1. Other storytellers included green home builder Dr. Polly Bart, comedian Marc Unger, youth activist and author Alphonso Mayo, healthcare improvement consultant Peggy Oehlmann, and videographer/photographer Nevin Baker.
The event was part of Speak(easy) Howard, a campaign of the Horizon Foundation that helps residents think through their preferences for care, talk about them with loved ones, and name a health care agent – the person you choose to make medical decisions if you are unable to.
“Speak(easy) Howard’s particular focus is to help you think about the medical care you would want if you couldn’t speak for yourself, and to help you name the person who will make those decisions for you if you can’t. Because we recognize that if we don’t talk about these things with the people we love, they will be left guessing,” said Horizon Foundation Senior Program Officer Tiffany Callender.
The Horizon Foundation would like to thank all seven storytellers, The Stoop Storytelling Series, Columbia Festival of the Arts, The Soundry as well as all attendees. Please share pictures, videos and your experience of the event using the hashtag #SpeakeasyStoop.
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