Brittany Maynard Chooses To Die At 29, Leaves Heartbreaking Farewell Message
In her final weeks, this terminally ill woman acted as an advocate for people like her.
On Saturday Nov. 1, Brittany Maynard chose to end her life.
The 29-year-old had been suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme. Treatment for this illness would only destroy the time she had left, leaving the Californian with limited options. For this reason, Maynard ultimately decided to move to Portland where she could access Oregon's Death With Dignity Act.
Death With Dignity has only been enacted in Oregon, Vermont, Montanta, Washington and New Mexico and enables mentally competent, terminally ill adults to end their own lives by self-administering a physician-prescribed lethal medication.
Maynard's decision to end her life was first made public last month in a video released by Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization fighting to expand the Death With Dignity Act nationwide.
Maynard was an advocate for the cause, and spoke out about the need for people like her to have the choice to die in an environment of their choosing.
"I've had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die," Maynard wrote in a peice for CNN. "But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms."
But in a later update video, Maynard said she did not feel attached to her proposed death-date, and would choose her time when it felt right.
"I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn't seem like the right time right now," says Maynard in the video above.
But, as with terminal illnesses, her condition progressively worsened, causing Maynard to go through with her inital plan to die on Nov. 1, surrounded by friends and family in her Portland home.
Here is her final goodbye Facebook message:
"Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!"
Though there has been an outpouring of support for Maynard, her story has also spurred much debate as Death With Dignity is highly controversial, especially among religious groups.
It shouldn't be the state's responsibility to help people who are despairing of their physical circumstances to kill themselves," asserts evangelical Christian author Joni Eareckson Tada in Religious News Service. "Rather, let's pour more effort into improving pain management therapies."
Still, Maynard's story touched millions and helped to spread awareness and education about the cause. In her obituary she expresses her wish that the choice to die be made available to all those who need it.
"Brittany chose to speak out and advocate for this patient right and option, which she felt is an informed choice that should be made available to all terminally ill patients across our great nation" reads Maynard's obituary. "'The freedom is in the choice,' she believed. 'If the option of DWD is unappealing to anyone for any reason, they can simply choose not to avail themselves of it. Those very real protections are already in place.'"