My father died January 2, 2013 after battling lung cancer for nine months. The cancer began to consume his body; it had spread to his liver and other organs. Although the last memory of my father was seeing him fragile and speechless, I will always remember him as the man he was before the illness - active, energetic and with a smile that could light up a room. My father was never alone during his last stages. He died in his own bedroom and was surrounded by the people and things he loved the most. He was able to live his final days as he wanted because he communicated what he wanted with me.
Right after being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, we had a conversation about writing an advance directive. I know how my father wanted to die. He did not want to be resuscitated and wished for a natural but painless death. We continued that discussion until the end.
When his final day arrived, I was not ready to see him go. However, I was at ease because I knew that he had died as he wished, painlessly, peacefully and surrounded by his family. I highly encouraged others to have a discussion as soon as possible; it relieved me from making last minute decisions that could have conflicted with my father’s medical care instructions. I thank him every day for that final gift he gave me.