Readers were moved by the courage of Mary Bowen Hall (PEOPLE, May 22), who, suffering from terminal cancer, chose to end her life. Many readers wrote of their own experiences with fatally ill loved ones, and a majority supported the right of the dying to choose the timing and terms of their death. Correspondents also had nice things to say about our cover three-some, Naomi, Wynonna and Ashley Judd.
The Judds demonstrate what can happen when you follow your heart, use your head and stand up for what you believe. These three strong women are wonderful role models, not just to women but to all human beings.
With Naomi’s beauty, business sense and determination, Wynonna’s absolutely beautiful voice and wacky sense of humor and Ashley’s serene sophistication and talent, it’s no wonder they are on top of the world. I salute all three. I’d hate to see the person who thought he or she could take it away from them.
LISA LAYNE, Lynchburg, Va.
You referred to my lectures on self-healing and quoted me as saying, “When things like hepatitis, cancer or AIDS happen to you, you can’t look outward for help. You have to look inside. Medicine and people will let you down. God will not.” I’m concerned that this might seem to imply that I’m against orthodox treatments. As a registered nurse (and a person with a chronic illness) I believe in using the best of modern medical science as well as alternative, complementary therapies. My desire is to create awareness of the spirit-mind-body connection and to encourage people to take an active part in the healing journey. After all, peace of mind is the goal.
NAOMI JUDD, Brentwood, Tenn.
MARY BOWEN HALL
On this, the third anniversary of my mother’s death (from lung disease and cancer), my heart broke all over again when I saw Mary Bowen Hall being held by her son Paul. She could have been my mom, being held by me or one of my brothers just three years ago. My mother was hospitalized for more than three months. At her insistence we brought her home, and with the help of the local hospice organization we were able to care for her in her home until she died. The support of the hospice allowed us to have time to tell her we loved her, thank her for her love and to say goodbye. She taught us so much throughout our lives, and in her death she taught us how to die with dignity.
LISA A. THEISEN, Columbus, Ohio
What an incredible woman Mary Bowen Hall must have been. And her children—well, they must be very proud of her, as they should be of themselves. I have the very same belief about life and death as they do. When I reach that point, I want my husband by my side, and should I decide to end any suffering that I may be experiencing, God help anyone who tries to stop me.
CANDY SWEET, Naples, Fla.
Doctors and nurses as well as families must understand that addiction to narcotics in terminal care is irrelevant. These people are dying; give them the quality of life they deserve right up to the end. Keep them clear of mind to make their own choices. This can be done with educated medical personnel controlling their doses. These patients wouldn’t consider suicide—assisted or unassisted—if they could live until they died.
KAREN HACK, Mifflintown, Pa.
Mary Bowen Hall’s story mirrors almost exactly my own mother’s death from cancer 10 years ago—with one big exception. We as a family were not as open and in touch with the inevitable, not as truthful and self-disclosing. My mother’s suffering continued to the bitter end. I cherish even those memories, but I wonder still: could we have made it easier?
LEA PIERCE, Chicago
The life and courage of Mary Bowen Hall should be celebrated, as should the end of her suffering. Only when a cure is found for the diseases that control, torture and ultimately kill us should opponents of the right to die offer me their opinion.
MARY ANN SHAW, Seaford, Del.
Michael Gelman’s rapport with Regis Philbin and his dedication to Live with Regis and Kathie Lee are obvious. Kathie Lee, however, should wake up and realize that while many Live fans enjoy an occasional anecdote about her beloved Cody, we concur with Gelman and his body language—a little goes a long way.
KAREN BALL, Savannah, Ga.