“I’m not killing myself. Cancer is killing me. I am choosing to go in a way that is less suffering and less pain. Not everybody has to agree that it’s the right thing, because they don’t have to do it. And it’s an option that for me has provided a lot of relief, because the way that my brain cancer would take me organically is very terrible. It’s a horrible way to die. The thought that I can spare myself the physical and emotional lengthy pain of that, as well as my family, is a huge relief.”
That was the comment of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year patient suffering from a fatal and cancerous brain tumor. And she was not just making empty threats, she took her own life on the date that she had set for the deed: Saturday, November 1, 2014.
Maynard had suffered increasing and persistent headaches, terrible neck pains, severe seizures, and longer stroke-like symptoms that made her lose control of her body. She suffered frequent inability to function but a time came when she approached the Compassion & Choices, a national non-profit group that advocated death with dignity in Portland, Oregon – to arrange for how to deal with her disease, instead of allowing the disease to deal with her. Since she had been told that the cancerous brain tumor would kill her in six months, Brittany had no intention of allowing that to happen given the attendant suffering that would go with it, she would not allow the disease to control how she lived or how she died.
And according to Sean Crowley, the spokesman for Compassion & Choices, “As symptoms grew more severe, she chose to abbreviate the dying process by taking the aid-in-dying medication she had received months ago. This choice is authorized under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. She died as she intended — peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones.” She took a lethal dose of water, sedatives, and respiratory-system depressants and ended her life.
Although there are mixed reactions from the social media over her death, and her rights to die with dignity has become a debate in legislative chambers across the US, Brittany Maynard had looked forward to the debates and social media buzz about her decision and eventual death. She however had words of gratitude and appreciation to family and everyone that had been of support to her during her trying periods. She said “it is people who pause to appreciate life and give thanks who are happiest. If we change our thoughts, we change our world! Love and peace to you all.
“I want to thank you all, for resonating powerfully with my story. Because of the incredible reaction, something monumental has started to happen. Last week alone, lawmakers in Connecticut and New Jersey came forward in support of DwD bills, and promised to put them back in the spotlight,” she said October 22. “I won’t live to see the DwD movement reach critical mass, but I call on you to carry it forward. … I have to believe that the pain we’ve endured has a greater purpose in the change we can create as a nation. I leave it in your hands.
She even advocated for death with dignity by saying “what does seem necessary, is to get people educated about this topic, to have discussions be based on facts not fear, and really have it be a health-care choice, which is what makes it a freedom. For me, there is an end date, and it’s relatively soon in sight, and that’s the nature of my terminal illness. I have a very large brain tumor, and it’s killing me.”