Tory Plaisance died Saturday night. We knew it was coming. In fact it's really the only reason we ever got to know Tory. But it was still a shock.
For the last 10 months a KING 5 News team has followed his efforts to use the new "Death With Dignity" law. He wanted us to tell his story, to show viewers that the new law had a place in Washington and that it had real value for people like him. We agreed to track his progress toward death, knowing that we could not predict how or when the "story" would end. He wanted to support the law, we wanted to step back and show the progress, learn from it and hopefully allow viewers to learn from it as well.
Tory had lived with AIDS since he was in his early 20s and for the last few years cancer had ravaged his colon, liver, pelvic wall and lungs. He wanted to die, or at least wanted the option of dying at his own pace and at a time of his choosing. It just didn't turn out that way. The law is hard to use, there are fairly complicated requirements built in so that it's not an easy thing to do. Tory got started late, never figured out the process, and never found the doctors who would both diagnose him as dying and prescribe lethal medicine for him.
We were part of the problem. The medical institution where he was receiving treatment refused to discuss his case with us, refused to prescribe for him and in the end told him to look elsewhere for help. And they told him very clearly that they did that because of his decision to go public with his journey, to allow us to tell his story in a series of news reports and online offerings.
Tory died at home, tended by a longtime friend and with his mother at his bedside. Paul, who helped him through his last difficult weeks, tells us Tory wasn't very comfortable when he passed and was still angry that he hadn't been able to make use of the new law which he wholeheartedly supported. He did finally find a sympathetic doctor and had started the process over again, but it all happened too late.
He had a tremendous, sly, occasionally dark sense of humor and would have appreciated the fact that in the end he died before he had time to kill himself.