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Insights Into Cancer – March 14, 2017

California End of Life Option Act: Hoping for the Best, Planning for the Worst and Knowing Your Options

Presented by Neil S. Wenger, MD, and Anne Coscarelli, PhD

About the Lecture

The California End of Life Option Act is a law that went into effect in June of 2016. This new law allows some patients with a terminal diagnosis to receive an aid-in-dying prescription from their physician much like in other states such as Oregon and Washington. This law presents an opportunity for discussion and understanding around best care and options for end of life. In these states, 70-80% of patients who select this option at end of life have cancer. What about cancer makes this option important to consider? What other considerations might be made whether cancer is terminal or not? What conversations and issues are important to address even before a cancer diagnosis? This presentation with a physician and psychologist open up an often neglected topic. The law is presented, what we know about its implementation to date and considerations that every patient and family should be thinking about as they recognize that death is ultimately not optional.

About the Speakers

Neil S. Wenger, MD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCLA and a consulting researcher at RAND. He is director of the UCLA Health Ethics Center and is chair of the Ethics Committee at the UCLA Medical Center. He also is director of the NRSA Primary Care Research Fellowship in the UCLA Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research. Dr. Wenger is an active general internist and carries out research in the empirical study of clinical ethics, care of and decision making for the older patient, and quality of health care. He directed the Assessing Care of the Vulnerable Elders project, which developed a quality-of-care assessment system for vulnerable older persons and interventions to improve care for this group. Other areas of interest include medication adherence, teaching clinical ethics, and measuring the quality of end-of-life care.

Anne Coscarelli, PhD, is an Adjunct Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at UCLA and the Founding Director of the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology. She has been a researcher in the area of quality of life and cancer at both the Veterans Administration and UCLA. Since receiving her PhD in 1980 she has been dedicated to the impact and care of patients with cancer and those touched by the disease. Dr. Coscarelli is a licensed psychologist in California and provides psychological care to patients and families as they live with the disease from early diagnosis, through survivorship and end of life care. She is dedicated to comprehensive care of the whole person with cancer and uses evidenced based approaches. She has published on many aspects of cancer and its impact on patients and families.

Lecture Dedication

deniseIn loving memory of Denise Mignon Railla, 58, Photographer. – A Memorial Lecture Supported by her Friends and Family.

Denise was a pure magic light. Illuminating life with her guitar, songs, photography, videos, Buddhist chants and incense. She was indescribably brave, spiritual, and creative; thirstily contributing to many peoples’ lives. A loved and valuable friend, daughter, sister, and caregiver. She will be sorely missed forever.

Denise was best known for her visual acumen. She was an amazing videographer and photographer. Her website was just started when she became ill. It had not reached her standard of perfection, however, we are grateful to be able to see her vision. Please enjoy.

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