When writer Catherine Royce became an ALS patient, she shared with NPR her passionate belief that she should be able to meet her decline and eventual death on her own terms. "Every day, I choose not only how I will live, but if I will live," she said 2 1/2 years ago. By last month, she had lost the ability to walk, type, and feed herself—but not the power of choice. Royce picked a date to have her life-support system turned down while her family stood by her.
Royce wrote essays, blogs and a book about her experience, and, until this spring, continued to find reasons to live. "I can choose to see ALS as nothing more than a death sentence, or I can choose to see it as an invitation—an opportunity to learn who I truly am," she wrote. Then, after a close brush with death, she described losing her fear. Her decision to die last month, despite opposition from many she knew, was a final assertion of that choice.