Single mom Christy O'Donnell, who has Stage IV cancer, learned last month that her treatments are no longer effective.
At the end of April her back pain became so "excruciating" that she could barely walk. That's when she realized that the cancer that had initially spread from her lung to her brain had most recently moved to her liver. Christy was told she probably wouldn't live past July.
"I am no longer considered stable," said Christy, who lives in California with her 20-year-old daughter, Bailey Donorovich. She added that if new chemotherapy treatments also failed, "My prognosis is maybe June or July."
But Christy, 46, doesn't want to wait for the cancer to take her away in a painful demise. Christy is currently fighting for the right to die on her own terms. While the is currently making its way through the California Legislature, Christy says "I can't wait."
She filed a lawsuit asking the state courts to immediately allow her doctor to prescribe medication that would end her life before the terminal cancer does.
"I want to make crystal-clear that my decision to file this lawsuit is not because I do not have faith in our Legislature," she says. "But the legislative process is a very long process. It's highly unlikely that the current pending legislation will come to a conclusion at any time in my lifetime."
"I am dying within the next months, and I am going to die painfully," Christy, who is an attorney and a former LAPD sergeant,
"I am asking the courts for intervention to issue an order so that a doctor can legally prescribe a medication so that I don't have to die painfully, and so that every moment before I die, I don't have to spend afraid and worried about the painful manner in which I'm going to die."
Christy explained, "My daughter can't wait. I owe this to myself, and I owe this to my daughter."
"Every day, when my daughter is coming home from work, she calls me on the phone to talk to me," O'Donnell says. "You know why? She wants to know before she gets home if I'm still alive."
"She's either going to come home and she's going to have to discover my body, or she's going to have to watch me die painfully," she told KABC.
The law in place that makes physician-assisted-suicide illegal was passed in California in1873.
"To know that the the law that's keeping me from dying peacefully and forcing my daughter to watch me die suffering was passed during a time when slavery was still legal in one of our states (Puerto Rico) is frustrating to me," she says. "The law is supposed to change according to the needs of society."
"The opponents argue that pain medication these days should be able to take care of everything," says O'Donnell. "But each person reacts differently to pain medication, and in my case, I get violently ill."
"My doctors can give me enough pain medication to knock me out so that I'm fairly unconscious and I don't feel most of my pain. But if I can't be cognitive, I cannot communicate with my daughter. I cannot communicate with my loved ones and my friends. That's not living."
Since her diagnosis, Christy has done the best she can to look towards the future.
Her goal is to live long enough to celebrate her daughter's 21st birthday in June. They're planning to take a cruise that stops in Atlantis — a place they've always wanted to go.
"I have fewer good days now," she says, "but it doesn't mean that the days aren't precious."
Christy's friends have started to help her daughter once she's gone, but Christy insists that she's not looking to turn a profit by filing this lawsuit — all she wants is the right to call her own shots.
"I want to make sure that people understand: We're not asking for a dime," she says. "We're just asking for help. It's not selfish to not want your child to watch you suffer, and it's not selfish to not want to suffer. And it's not selfish to not want your doctor to have to go to jail for trying to help you."
O'Donnell — inspired by , the 29-year-old with terminal cancer who became a vocal advocate for right-to-die legislation — reached out to , a group that Maynard worked closely with before ending her life.
"Christy is a profile in courage for many other dying people who face unbearable suffering in their final days that even the best hospice and palliative care cannot relieve," says National Director of Legal Advocacy Kevin Díaz.
"As Brittany recognized, these people desperately need the option of medical aid in dying so they can die painlessly, peacefully in their sleep — and they need it now — before it's too late," says Diaz,
And even if the lawsuit fails, Christy says she prays that her daughter will one day see it pass.
"If it doesn't happen, I will die believing that it will happen in my daughter's lifetime," she told . "At some point in her life, she'll be standing there and she'll hear that the law has passed or changed, and she'll know that from that moment on, that nobody else is going to have to suffer the way she saw me suffer. And then she'll know that it was all worth it."