I believe that a person should be able to choose their own fate. This could be easily misunderstood, so I’d like to clarify what I mean. When someone finds out they have a terminal illness, I believe they should have the right to choose how to deal with that illness, be it refusing to fight it to their last breath, or take every possible measure to survive as long as possible. My grandfather and my great grandfather both recently passed away. They both had made choices earlier in their lives not to be kept on life support. My grandfather could not breath on his own in the hospital, and even with the help of a machine, his breathing was labored. He was unconscious and everyone in my family knew how he felt about being on life support, and so even though it was hard for all of us, we respected his wishes. My great grandfather passed away in hospice care. I was happy that his last memories were of his family standing by him and reminiscing over some happy times we’ve all had. Every step of the way in both of these events there was a doctor, a social worker, a nurse, giving my family information about treatment options and pros and cons for each. I remember clearly a social worker in my great grandfather’s room going over different options, showing us brochures, telling us the experiences she had with each option, and how much it meant to me that she talked to my great grandfather as well. The medical profession seems to have a good grasp on this concept, and I believe it should happen like this in other areas of life as well. As a student of social work education, I’ve learned that the right of self-determination by the client is a value that is held to be incredibly important by the social work profession. One thing I want to have fresh in my mind when I am working as either a social worker or a marriage and family therapist is that the client is an expert on themselves, whereas I am not. I believe the decision should be left up to the client, and that my role should be to give all the options with all the pros and cons of each.
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