Christy O'Donnell, who has advanced lung cancer, is one of several California patients suing for the right to get a doctor's help with prescription medicine to end their own lives if and when they feel that's necessary. YouTube hide caption

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For best quality of life, many cancer patients who can't be cured might do best to forgo chemo and focus instead on pain relief and easing sleep and mood problems, a survey of caregivers suggests. iStockphoto hide caption

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In the movie The Fault in Our Stars, having terminal cancer doesn't look so bad for Hazel, played by Shailene Woodley, and Gus, played by Ansel Elgort. James Bridges/Temple Hill Entertainment/Kobal Collection hide caption

itoggle caption James Bridges/Temple Hill Entertainment/Kobal Collection

A photo of Brittany Maynard, who moved to Oregon to end her life as she was dying of brain cancer, sits on the dais of the California Senate's health committee in March. Rich Pedroncelli/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Nora Zamichow says if she and her husband, Mark Saylor, had known how doctors die, they might have made different treatment decisions for him toward the end of his life. Maya Sugarman/KPCC hide caption

itoggle caption Maya Sugarman/KPCC

When J.D. Falk was dying of stomach cancer in 2011, his wife says doctors would only talk about death in euphemisms. Hope Arnold hide caption

itoggle caption Hope Arnold

Of I Wish You the Sunshine of Tomorrow, Rodgers says: "The ICU room my dad was in on the day he died had yellow walls. Every time we visited him we had to wear hospital gowns that were a bright yellow. [It] was a recurring color in that whole time frame of my life." Courtesy of Jennifer Rodgers hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Jennifer Rodgers

The Rev. Vernon Holmes leads a Lutheran congregation near Sacramento, Calif., that supports the state's right-to-die bill. He describes his faith as promoting quality of life. Andrew Nixon/Capital Public Radio hide caption

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Hawaii ranks 49th in the nation for use of home health care services during the last six months of someone's life. Videos from ACP Decisions show patients what their options are at the end of life. ACP Decisions hide caption

itoggle caption ACP Decisions
Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Robert Schwimmer, 66, and his son Scott Schwimmer, 21, spoke with NPR about Robert's wish to hasten his death under certain circumstances. Here — as in the family photo above — they're in Kauai, Hawaii, on the family's "last big trip" after Robert received a 6-month prognosis in October. Courtesy Scott Schwimmer hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Scott Schwimmer

Paula and Ron Faber walk their dog Millie in 2009, between cancer diagnoses. Shelley Seccombe/Shelley Seccombe hide caption

itoggle caption Shelley Seccombe/Shelley Seccombe

From her cubicle at Vital Decisions in Cherry Hill, N.J., Kate Schleicher counsels people who are seriously ill. Emma Lee/WHYY hide caption

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Maria Fabrizio for NPR