JJ’s final days – and why he campaigned against euthanasia

By July 26, 2018 Recent News

During our oral submission against David Seymour’s euthanasia bill, we referenced JJ Hanson.

J.J. Hanson, 35, is a former Marine from New York’s Hudson Valley who did a tour in Iraq. In 2014 doctors discovered he had stage 4 glioblastoma (GBM), one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer—and the same kind of cancer that assisted suicide advocate Brittany Maynard had when she ended her life in late 2014. Three different doctors told Hanson his case was terminal and said he had four months to live. But he was determined to do aggressive treatment anyway. He joined a clinical trial. Hanson who worked in New York state government before turning to the private sector once supported the New York bill to allow physician assisted suicide – until he had a terminal disease. He campaigned against it and it was eventually defeated, like many around the world. He then led efforts against physician-assisted suicide legislation around the USA with the organization Patients’ Rights Action Fund. Why the change in opinion? At month 5 of his treatment, Hanson became depressed. He says he lay in his bed and asked himself if he should give up, if it would make things easier for everyone if he were gone. He decided to continue—but then he imagined what others in his position might do.
Hanson asked. “When you were the sickest in your life, how well were you thinking at that time? Not good, right? Now multiply that exponentially. … Put [the drugs] in a glass of beer, done. In that moment of weakness and difficulty and stress, done. … I don’t think I would have done that, but there’s many people who could’ve or would’ve in that situation.” … Hanson spoke to legislators, emphasising how legalising assisted suicide will change social norms, legitimising the general practice of suicide. Sadly, JJ Hanson died on 31 December 2017 – living 3 years longer than original prognosis of 4 months.

Three weeks before his death, JJ and his wife, Kristen, reflect on their life together and how choosing to live and to fight brought them more joy and love then they could have ever imagined.