News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 p.m.

California End of Life proponent Christy O'Donnell: 'It's been a long journey'

Photo Credit: Christy O'Donnell

Listen to story

Extra Audio:
Download this story 3MB

A woman who has been one of California's most vocal proponents of End of Life legislation is speaking out after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill on Monday.

"I was so proud to be a Californian and for Gov. Brown to make this very difficult decision, but accurate decision to represent over 75 percent of Californians who want this," said Christy O'Donnell. "It was very bittersweet because it's been a long journey for both my daughter Bailey and I."

O'Donnell was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer in June 2014 and was told she had only months to live. She thought she wouldn't live to see the bill signed.

"I'm very, very happy still for other Californians, but given the administrative and procedural process still that the law has to go through before it’s finalized, it still is very unlikely that I am going to live to be able to use the law because it won’t take action, likely, until January," she said.

O’Donnell recently underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor that formed as the cancer spread. As a result, she’s lived longer than her doctor initially predicted. She says she’s “very lucky” that the treatment was successful, but it only bought her a little more time. “The cancer has now spread throughout my body into my liver, my ribs, my spine and just continues to spread,” she said. “And I’ve now exhausted any chemotherapy options.”

O’Donnell says she made many of her end-of-life plans after the cancer was discovered, but the hardest part has been planning how she will support her 21-year-old daughter Bailey after she’s gone.

“It’s been very important for me to try to be present with her in the future, even though I won’t be alive,” she says. “I spent quite a bit of time preparing cards for her for the future, gifts for her wedding, for her baby shower and those types of things.”

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.

Correction: A previous version of this story's headline misspelled Christy O'Donnell's name.