Two terminally-ill patients who refused assisted suicide to help others & show life’s sanctity


(J.J. Hanson/Center for Disability Rights/Facebook)

 

 

 

 

Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, J.J. Hanson has passed away. He passed away on December 30th, just 36 years old. Many of our listeners probably don’t recognize that name and, for those that don’t, let me just say that J.J. Hanson was a vocal opponent of assisted suicide more than three years after receiving a terminal diagnosis for brain cancer. He is survived by his wife, Kristen, two sons, a 4-year-old and a 6-month-old. His cancer, glioblastoma, was the same aggressive type that afflicted John McCain.

TRAGIC DISEASES 

DR. REEDER: And it is also the same type – in fact, his case pointedly parallels – that same diagnosis that came to one of my best friends this time a couple of years ago who recently went to be with the Lord. He’s an elder in our church and his name is Ronnie Norris. One of the most effervescent Christians you’ve ever met in your life, a very effective leader. His wonderful wife, Nancy, his two sons are very dear to us.

It was very interesting and heart-wrenching I have to confess, to go through that so the last year’s been a little bit of a challenge for me, too, Tom. You know, I lost my sister. I lost my Aunt Peggy, but she came to Christ in the last couple of weeks of her life. Rather challenging and one of those was Ronnie’s homegoing. I rejoice for him but, of course, I hurt for Nancy.

It’s very interesting the parallel here. Ronnie received this same diagnosis and he also had a number of – I won’t say well-meaning because I just have a hard time saying well-meaning to anybody that recommends assisted suicide – but he had people telling him that’s the way to go. Of course, they were not believers or friends in the church or anything, but they were people in the community that said, “There’ll be a time out there that this is what you ought to do.”

TOUGH DECISIONS

And he said no – on the contrary, he made the same decision that this ex-Marine, J.J. Hanson made and that was, “Hey, if I’m going through this, maybe I can go through it in a way to, No. 1, encourage other people and, No. 2, use it as platform to talk about the sanctity of life.”

And the sanctity of life has two main vistas: one is the beginning of life and the other is the end of physical life here. And so, he saw – the culture of death that has engulfed our culture – that culture of death as something that needed to be confronted, not only at the beginning of life – and that is the matter of abortion – but also at the end of life, assisted suicide.

JUDGMENT CALLS

He understood that assisted suicide, it’s one thing for people in their own life to decide, “I’m not going to take anything else to eat. I’m not going to take anything else to drink. I’m not going to do heroic measures,” and that is just letting death take its process when you’ve come to a particular time and I understand.

The sanctity of life does not call us to prolong death. That’s always a judgment call to make. I had to make it with my wife and her father. When they came to us and said, “There’s no chance for his recovery,” we said, “Give it another day,” we prayed over his bed, we looked at the signs, we looked at all the things that were going on and I just said to Cindy, “I don’t think it’s time yet.”

A week later, he walks out of the hospital and he gets to see the birth of another grandchild as he lives another year and a half.

ASSISTED SUICIDE LEADS TO MANDATED SUICIDE

The same thing, this ex-Marine, J.J. Hanson – but you’re really never an ex-Marine, Semper Fi forever – and he also had so many notable things that he went through: two Gran-Mal seizures and other smaller seizures and he came back from them, taught himself to walk, and to talk, and to be able to read and to process.

He became a vivacious and very effective speaker spokesman for the sanctity of life. And he understood that, once you move to the area of assisted suicide, then you put life and death further in control of the government and, as you put life and death further in control of the government, assisted suicide will soon become mandated suicide as we now see in various European countries as well.

GIFT OF SELF

He also used it as a platform to talk about life – not only to deal with the debasing dynamics of assisted suicide and its inevitable move to mandated suicide, but, Tom, he also began to talk about the value of life and how these last weeks and months and years of someone with terminal illness can actually be very productive.

He manifested that, he modeled that and he did the very same thing that my friend, Ronnie, did: he said, “I am not going to go the route of traditional treatments. I’m going to go another route.”

Now, J.J. Hanson went the route of immunotherapy as a number have done. My friend, Ronnie, went the route of a process that has been used in India. His willingness to go through the experimental treatments in India became a part of the process whereby this is now being moved to the United States of America – even Johns Hopkins Hospital is looking at it through the work that’s done and his engagement has become a part of that.

By the way, Ronnie had developed a friendship with Laura Ingraham who is with Fox News – who is also a cancer survivor and has become an advocate for various new treatments of cancer – and she told Ronnie about it and that’s how he was exposed to it and that’s how he used it. It was by his willingness to go through it that it’s now going to be perfected further and, very likely, will become a treatment process offered now in the United States of America.

In other words, he used this opportunity for the benefit of others.

I remember sitting with him at a breakfast and he told me, “Harry, I want you to do two things for me. No. 1, I want to die well. This is a moment that Jesus has given to me. Don’t let me waste it — I want to die well. I know that I have a cancer and it thinks its job is to kill me, but I want you to know that I have put my trust in Jesus. You know that. You’ve seen that. Help me now to live that out all the way to the end.

No. 2, I want to do something with this that may benefit others,” and that’s one of the reasons he chose this treatment, Tom.

WITNESS-BEARING TO GOSPEL POWER

And so now others are going to benefit because he didn’t go the way of assisted suicide, which, by the way, will lead to mandated suicide. He went the way of helping others and using the process as an opportunity for people to see the power of the Gospel in the life of someone who not only lived well in Christ, but died well for Christ — living by faith and dying in faith.

And that’s the way he saw this, for Christ, and that life was something to be embraced as a gift from God and something to be cherished even as you trusted in the Lord for the everlasting life that He gives to you.

Tom, that’s the way he saw it and that’s the way countless others do. We have seen people like Joni Eareckson Tada with the adversity of her quadriplegic condition.

We’ve seen it in the lives of many others as they see it two ways. No. 1: “Here’s a platform in life and death where I will honor Christ. We’re following what the apostle Paul pointed out to us: ‘Whether by life or by death, I want Christ to be honored in my life.’ And then the apostle Paul said, ‘That is my greatest desire is that Christ would be honored in my life and by my death, that He would be exalted.’

And, No. 2, how many other people can I help in this process?” As J.J. Hanson, Ronnie Norris and countless others have said, “Let’s use this to benefit others in the future.”

Tom, I would say it’s not only the fact that we need to speak on the matter of policies that affirm the sanctity of life — it is the opportunity for believers to embrace every moment in life to honor the Lord who gives life, who takes life away and who is our life.

And, therefore, in the midst of moving to eternal life to be with him, we can honor him throughout our life, even to the point of death which, for us, is the beginning of forever.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

25 mins ago

UAB’s Proton International to conduct first cancer treatments at end of February

Proton therapy, a highly sophisticated radiation technology for treating cancer, has come to Alabama with the opening of Proton International at UAB. The facility opened with a ribbon-cutting Jan. 13. The center is a partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Proton International.

Proton International at UAB is one of 36 proton therapy centers in the United States and the first in Alabama.

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“With the establishment of this center, UAB Medicine has again brought one of the latest, most advanced medical technologies to our region,” said Will Ferniany, CEO of UAB Health System. “Proton therapy will be a valuable tool that our physicians and scientists in the Department of Radiation OncologySchool of Medicine and the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center can employ to the betterment of thousands of cancer patients in Alabama and the surrounding area.”

Proton therapy uses a beam of protons directed at the tumor site. The beam is configured to deliver the majority of its energy precisely at the tumor. Healthy tissue in front of the tumor receives a minimal amount of energy, and tissue behind the tumor receives little. This reduces damage to healthy tissue that is common in X-ray radiation and the cause of most side effects.

“Opening the center is an important milestone for the residents of Alabama who now have access to proton therapy closer to home,” said Chris Chandler, CEO of Proton International. “Our mission is to work in partnership with leading clinical entities, such as UAB, so patients and families do not have to travel long distances and suffer further cost and stress at such a critical time.”

UAB physicians anticipate beginning consultations with prospective patients in the next two weeks, with the first proton therapy treatments taking place at the end of February.

Proton therapy is used to treat tumors of the brain and central nervous system, spine, head and neck, lung, prostate, liver, gastrointestinal tract and colon, and some breast tumors. While it treats primarily single-site tumors, because of its focused dose capabilities in some cases it can be used for treating cancer that has spread to surrounding tissue.

“Proton therapy will allow us to treat deep-seated cancers,” said James A. Bonner, M.D., the Merle M. Salter Endowed Professor and chair of the UAB Department of Radiation Oncology. “It can be particularly efficacious in the treatment of children, who can be highly sensitive to the effects of radiation therapy. We are excited to offer this cutting-edge approach for patients and families in Birmingham, across Alabama and beyond.”

Proton International at UAB is on 20th Street South between Fourth and Fifth avenues. The facility consists of a three-story building to house clinical exam rooms, offices and the ProBeam proton therapy system, manufactured by Varian Medical Systems, a longtime partner with UAB in the delivery of radiation therapy. The medical staff, including radiation oncologists, medical physicists, dosimetrists, radiation therapy technologists and nurses, will be exclusively from UAB.

The heart of proton therapy is a machine called a cyclotron, which produces the proton beam and delivers it to the precise location in the body to destroy tumor cells. Proton International at UAB’s cyclotron, nick-named Emma, was manufactured in Germany. The $25 million, 90-ton cyclotron was brought by ship to Brunswick, Georgia, then transported to UAB last March by a specialized truck, with 20 axles, 78 wheels, and drivers in front and back. A heavy-lift crane was assembled on Fourth Avenue South to lift and deposit Emma into the facility via the roof.

UAB will be involved in clinical research studies on the use of proton therapy to discover the full utility of the therapy and produce best practice parameters on its use. Click here for a more detailed explanation of how proton therapy works.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s UAB News website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 hour ago

Artificial reef teeming with life in Gulf of Mexico

An artificial reef created in the Gulf of Mexico four years ago appears to be teeming with life.

In 2016, two of Alabama Power’s retired boilers were sunk off the coast of Mobile County to improve the marine ecosystem. The giant steel structures previously used to turn steam into power have also proven to be a boon for offshore anglers.

“We put the reef down in the water that day, and it looks like you are just putting in something not useful and, now to see it flourish as a fish habitat and all the wildlife that’s there, it’s actually exciting,” said Susan Comensky, Alabama Power vice president for Environmental Affairs. “It’s a great success, and we are so grateful for what everybody brought to the table to make it a success.”

For decades, thousands of man-made objects, like old ships and concrete bridge rubble, have been sunk off the Alabama coastline. The 200,000-pound boilers were sunk from a barge donated by Cooper/T. Smith Corp., a marine transportation firm headquartered in Mobile.

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Artificial reef off Alabama coast is full of marine life from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The state’s artificial reef zone stretches almost from Florida to Mississippi and out 60 miles from shore. The result is one of the country’s best places for offshore fishing.

“We have several thousand (artificial) reefs off the coast of Alabama, and we have the biggest and best red snapper fishery in the world,” said Chris Blankenship, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources commissioner. “We have built an incredible fishery off the coast of Alabama that is really unrivaled anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico or, really, in the country.”

The reefs have been a boon for the fish and the state’s economy.

“Every weekend that the red snapper fishery is open, as well as amberjack, gray triggerfish, vermillion snapper, there are people with thousands of boats that buy gas and bait and stay in hotel rooms. All of that adds to quite a big economic impact for the coastal areas of our state,” Blankenship said.

However, it’s not just anglers that are drawn to the reefs.

“A wide range of user groups can benefit from this reef – recreational anglers, commercial anglers and any kind of eco-tourism, things like scuba divers and underwater photography,” said Craig Newton, biologist with the Alabama Marine Resources Division.

The project is an example of what can be done when people work together for a common cause, planners say.

“What it does is allows all of us to maximize our resources to accomplish great things and do so in a way that our members and the people of Alabama can benefit,” said Tim Gothard, executive director of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

The coordinates for the reef are 29 47.544, 87 59.104.

Find out more about the Marine Resources Division by visiting its Facebook page.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

12 hours ago

Jones ‘really troubled’ that Trump’s legal team ‘treating this like defending a criminal case’

Following the first day of President Donald Trump’s legal team making their case to the Senate in the president’s impeachment trial, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Saturday afternoon released yet another video update.

The latest video came after Jones on the day previous called the evidence presented by the Democratic House impeachment managers “compelling.”

Jones’  Saturday video specified that he found Democratic arguments about both impeachment articles as “compelling.”

“Number one, I still think the House [impeachment managers] made a compelling argument on both Article One and Article Two last night,” Jones outlined. “You probably already read all the news, I thought they did a pretty good job of pulling all the evidence together that points to their burden of proof in Article One and Article Two.”

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“Today, I was hoping to hear a lot of facts from the [president’s legal team], and we did hear some facts from the president’s counsel,” he continued. “Some facts that didn’t bring out — there was nothing really new for me because I spent a lot of time going through the transcripts and the evidence. And so there were not a whole lot of surprises to me.”

Jones then said, “There were a couple of things, though, that really troubled me a lot. Number one: I do not appreciate the fact that the president’s counsel immediately started out talking not about House managers and their case but about House Democrats, playing to the partisan nature of the entire country. [From] the very beginning of this, I asked people to go out of their partisan corners. I thought that the House managers did a pretty good job of that. But immediately the president’s folks, playing I assume to the president and his base, immediately started talking — and they did it repeatedly — talked about House Democrats.”

“I am not a Senate Democrat in this instance, I am a United States Senator charged with a responsibility of trying to do impartial justice,” Jones added. “So I don’t care to hear the partisan rhetoric. That’s number one.”

“Number two: the president’s counsel seems to be treating this like defending a criminal case,” Alabama’s junior senator further explained. “That’s how I take this. Even though this is not a trial in that sense, it’s certainly not a criminal case.”

Jones subsequently opined that during the Senate impeachment trial, the burden of proof does not completely fall on the House impeachment managers, unlike how it would on the prosecution in a criminal trial.

Jones later claimed that having witnesses testify during the Senate impeachment trial would actually “speed up” the process rather than delay it.

He then remarked, “I go back to the abuse of power. And I go back to foreign, national security that we have here. That’s where these witnesses are so, so important. Because as you will hear over the next day or so, so much of what the president’s lawyers said is pretty disingenuous about withholding aid…”

Jones said, “With all due respect, the [president’s] phone call on July 25 was not perfect.”

He raised the “serious issue” of what Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas were doing in Ukraine ahead of July 25.

“So, with all of that, I’m still waiting for facts that contradict — that completely dispute some of the House managers,” Jones commented in his conclusion. “And those witnesses may exist. They may exist. It may exist in the form of John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney and Mr. Duffey and others; let’s hear them.”

Watch:

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Roby: We must stand for life

Every year, thousands of Americans gather in our nation’s capital to participate in the March for Life. This annual event is an opportunity for pro-life advocates from across the country to join together and demonstrate their concern for protecting all life.

With a single ruling, the Supreme Court deemed abortion legal throughout the United States. We are now 47 years removed from the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, and the advocates for life around the country are stronger than ever.

Many traveled far and wide to be in Washington for this year’s March, which occurred this past week. I know that some pro-life supporters traveled from Alabama’s Second District – almost 900 miles – to defend the unborn.

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It’s no secret that I am unapologetically pro-life. That is a belief I have always held close to my heart, and I have made it known since my first day in Congress.

I believe that human life begins at conception, and our laws and policies should reflect a commitment to protecting life at every stage. I feel a strong responsibility to do everything in my power to fight for the unborn.

This platform I have been given is a special opportunity to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

I have repeatedly spoken out in the House of Representatives regarding my strong opposition to abortion, and I have proudly cosponsored several pro-life bills in Congress. I have always been and will always remain a strong advocate against American taxpayer dollars being used to fund abortions and aiding in the destruction of human life.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have helped craft legislation that directs federal funding away from organizations like Planned Parenthood and instead toward community health and women’s organizations that provide family planning care in place of abortions.

While not everyone here in Congress may share my convictions about life or certain policies surrounding the rights of unborn children, our pro-life momentum is still powerful. We now live in a society where abortion activists are celebrating victories for so-called “women’s health” when it comes to this issue, though we have recently seen several pro-life victories across the nation.

Governor Kay Ivey signed the Alabama Human Life Protection Act into law in May 2019 banning abortion in the state of Alabama at any stage of pregnancy. This piece of legislation was a significant step taken to advance the pro-life agenda in the state. Additionally, a 2014 Louisiana abortion law will come before the Supreme Court this spring, and it could be a potential vehicle for the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade.

I admire all federal and state leaders who stand firm in their beliefs to defend America’s unborn children. I recently spoke on the House Floor regarding my strong opinion on this subject. I would like to say “thank you” to each and every American who continues to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

America was founded on the principle that every human being has rights, dignity, and value. Although we continue to fight the good fight here in Washington and back home in Alabama, our work is far from complete. I promise to not stop fighting until our laws protect life at every stage, and I hope you won’t stop either.

Every life deserves a voice, and I will not back down until we accomplish our goal.

Representative Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

17 hours ago

Three Alabama lakes get spruced up with ‘The Preserves’ recreation sites

Three new public recreation sites have been added at Lake HarrisLay Lake and Lake Martin as part of Alabama Power’s “The Preserves.”

These areas consist of trails, gazebos, benches, interpretive signs and pollinator plots. From hiking, and biking to bird-watching, The Preserves are core to the Alabama Power ideal of merging nature with crafting special places.

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“These lands allow people to explore, learn and grow a deeper appreciation of our state’s ecology and natural beauty. They allow our citizens to access and enjoy our lakes. They are inclusive and open to all,” said Ed Windsor, recreation development assistant with Alabama Power.

“The Preserves project is unique in that it gives us a chance to take existing areas around lakes and create a space for residents to not only learn about and enjoy nature but also make memories and see the importance of protecting our environment.”

Lake Harris now has The Preserves at Little Fox Creek, located off Alabama Highway 48 between Lineville and Wedowee. This site, already home to a public use boat ramp and Piedmont Plateau Birding Trail, will now feature an enhanced trail system totaling 5 miles. The site is managed in partnership with the Lake Wedowee Property Owners Association.

Additionally, the area will have two pollinator plots, interpretive signs, benches, a boardwalk and two gazebos for the public to enjoy.

The existing recreation area on Lay Lake, named Beeswax Creek Park, is located off Alabama Highway 145 in Columbiana on Beeswax Creek Park Road. Recent upgrades include a 2.75-mile trail system complete with a pollinator plot, an additional launching pier, interpretive signs, gazebos and benches. This site is managed in partnership with Shelby County Parks and Recreation Board.

Lake Martin’s new recreation area, Nature’s Way, is located on the southeastern corner of the reservoir, at the end of Old Tree Road in Dadeville. This area will feature a trail system totaling 4 miles with gazebos, interpretive signs, a boardwalk and benches.

These trails are open for hiking, running, bird-watching and biking. All these public recreation areas allow pets on leashes.

These sites come after the successful launch of three other new and upgraded sites last year.

Upgrades at Lake Logan MartinWeiss Lake and Neely Henry Lake have had a tremendously positive response from users.

“Continuing to provide these improvements in our communities is Alabama Power’s way of enhancing our state’s natural resources to give back in hopes that families will enjoy them more,” said Stephen Posey, recreation development assistant for Alabama Power.

The upgrades have been made possible through the help of businesses and contractors, like Foothills Contracting of Uniontown.

Alabama Power’s recreation team is working with Foothills Contracting to build the gazebos and kiosks for these public use areas.

“While traditionally used for fencing, this wood will provide a long-lasting structure with an incredible color and grain that will set it apart from anything else we have found in the state,” said Sage Coley, vice president of Foothills Contracting.

Foothills Contracting constructed the gazebos and kiosks with a unique and long-lasting type of wood known as Osage Orange.

“This was our first time building for a customer like Alabama Power, but it has been great seeing a company invest time and money to give back to the community and the kids. These playgrounds, trails and gazebos will be a great addition to the state’s lakes,” said Glynward Coley, owner of Foothills Contracting.

Alabama Power will continue to build The Preserves brand and make improvements to recreation sites on Alabama Power reservoirs. The Preserves project will focus on upgrades at more lakes in 2020, starting at Lake Jordan.

This story originally appeared in Shorelines magazine.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)