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Health Care, Media, Society, Uncategorized

Brittany Maynard, Death With Dignity Advocate, Dies At Age 29

right-to-die

Brittany Maynard, the Oregon woman who had become an outspoken advocate of the right-to-die movement following her terminal cancer diagnosis, died at home on Saturday, the Oregonian reported. She was 29 years-old.

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love,” she wrote in a Facebook post, according to People. “Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness… the world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers… goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

Earlier this year, Maynard learned that she was suffering from an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma and had only six months to live. After hearing what the disease would to her body in its final stages, she decided that she wanted to die on her own terms. She described the devastating decision in a blog post for CNN.com:

After months of research, my family and I reached a heartbreaking conclusion: There is no treatment that would save my life, and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I had left.

I considered passing away in hospice care at my San Francisco Bay-area home. But even with palliative medication, I could develop potentially morphine-resistant pain and suffer personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of virtually any kind.

Because the rest of my body is young and healthy, I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind. I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that.

I did not want this nightmare scenario for my family, so I started researching death with dignity. It is an end-of-life option for mentally competent, terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live. It would enable me to use the medical practice of aid in dying: I could request and receive a prescription from a physician for medication that I could self-ingest to end my dying process if it becomes unbearable.

I quickly decided that death with dignity was the best option for me and my family.

Maynard and her family, including her husband Dan Diaz and her mother Debbie Ziegler, moved to Oregon, where the state’s Death With Dignity Act has allowed hundreds of terminally ill people to end their lives by taking a medication prescribed by doctors. She had chosen November 1st as the day she wanted to die because it was after her husband’s late October birthday.

Since then, Maynard had become a champion for the law and for patients in her situation, working with a group called Compassion and Choices.

“I am not suicidal,” she wrote on CNN.com. “I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.”

right-to-die 2

On Wednesday, Maynard released a new video that suggested that she might consider postponing her death.

“If November 2nd comes along and I’ve passed, I hope my family is still proud of me and the choices I’ve made. If November 2nd comes along and I’m still alive, I know that we’ll still be moving forward as a family out of love for each other, and that decision will come later.”

Compassion and Choices said Maynard “passed peacefully in her bed surrounded by close family and loved ones.”

Maynard recently crossed the last item off her bucket list: a trip to the Grand Canyon. Before she became ill, Maynard was an active traveler and adventurer who lived in Southwest Asia for a year and once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

You can watch more of Brittany’s story – and learn more about the cause she advocated for – in the videos below:

 

 

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