Meet the Doctors Fighting to Grant Patients the Right to Die

September 17, 2015

By Josh Sanburn

Daniel Swangard never thought he would live a long life. It was a premonition he and his sister both had, like a cancer they silently carried with them. But neither talked about it until Swangard felt something hard and curious in his abdomen.

In March 2013, doctors discovered that Swangard, a 49-year-old anesthesiologist in Bolinas, Calif., had a mass in his liver the size of a grapefruit. The initial diagnosis: hyperplasia, a benign tumor most often found in women. But Swangard thought differently. This is the beginning of the end, he told himself, his portent fulfilled.

When doctors went in to remove the growth, they discovered the real evil lurked in Swangard’s pancreas, where a neuroendocrine tumor–the same kind that killed Steve Jobs–had developed into the size of a golf ball. They took out half of Swangard’s pancreas, his spleen, part of his liver, and his gall bladder, leaving a 12-in. incision running from his sternum to below his belly button.

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