Friday, January 30, 2015

What We Don’t Know Just Might Kill You

Recently, I wrote about Brittany Maynard joining the ranks of countless “nameless, faceless egg donors,” as we say in our film Eggsploitation. Those who recognize Brittany’s name will know her as the young woman who received a horrific diagnosis, in the prime of her young life—glioblastoma. Just typing the word makes me shudder. As a nurse, I’ve taken care of patients with this diagnosis. I’ve lost friends and loved ones to this brain tumor. It’s a diagnosis for which there is no cure. All today’s medicine can offer patients with this diagnosis are treatments that may buy time, with a potential tradeoff between quantity and quality of life.

When I wrote about Brittany, I didn’t write about the fact that she left California to move to Oregon in order to be in a state where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I didn’t even write about the way in which the physician-assisted suicide debate seems to be creeping—actually, barreling—back into my state of California, with Brittany as the hero for the cause.

Instead, I wrote to talk about a tragic case of a young woman who was given a death-sentence diagnosis of glioblastoma, who happened to have in her medical history the fact that she was an egg donor. This information came to me from a source who wished to remain anonymous, and who, because she was very close to Brittany, knew that Brittany had been an egg donor. My source reached out to me because she was aware of my work exposing the risks, known and unknown, to young women who make the decision to donate—or considerably more often, sell—their eggs, which is what Brittany did. I was contacted because this person was worried that this decision might have played a role in Brittany’s developing a glioblastoma.  (more...)

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