‘Goodbye world. Spread good energy’: Terminal cancer patient, Brittany Maynard, 29, exercises her right-to-die and takes her own life surrounded by her family
Brittany Maynard, 29, had previously planned to legally end her life on November 1 – before she loses her battle with terminal brain cancer
She died in her Portland, Oregon home on Sunday surrounded by family
Chose to die before she lost her ability to function
Maynard wrote on Facebook: ‘Goodbye to all my dear friends’
Added that she had ‘a ring of support’ around her as she typed
Was diagnosed in April and doctors gave her just six months to live
She then made headlines around the world announcing she wanted to die
Last week she completed her bucket list by visiting the Grand Canyon
Suicide Solution – Playing God and deciding if one should live or Die!
A 29-year-old terminal cancer sufferer who had previously spoken of her right to die has ended her own life surrounded by her family. According to friends and family of Brittany Maynard, she passed away in her Portland, Oregon, home after her condition worsened and the tumor took over. However she was able to choose to die before she lost her ability to function. She completed her bucket list last week when she visited the Grand Canyon. People.com said she wrote on Facebook : ‘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.’
‘Today I chose to die with dignity’: According to friends and family of Brittany Maynard, she passed away in her Portland, Oregon, home after her condition worsened. She was surrounded by family and friends
Goodbye: The 29-year-old mother wrote on Facebook : ‘Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love’
She added: ‘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!’
Sean Crowley, a spokesman for Compassion & Choices, said in a statement late Sunday that Maynard died Saturday ‘as she intended — peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones.’ Crowley said Maynard ‘suffered increasingly frequent and longer seizures, severe head and neck pain, and stroke-like symptoms. As symptoms grew more severe she chose to abbreviate the dying process by taking the aid-in-dying medication she had received months ago.’ Maynard was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer and in April doctors gave her just six months to live. She then made headlines around the world after announcing she intended to die under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. ‘But it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It’s happening each week.’ The newlywed recently managed to tick visiting the Grand Canyon off her bucket list after previously announcing that it was one place she hoped to visit before she died. Last week she had revealed on her website that she had managed to travel from her home in Oregon to Arizona with her husband, mother and stepfather ‘thanks to the kindness of Americans around the country who came forward to make my ‘bucket list’ dream come true’. In her latest statement, a video produced by end-of-life choice advocacy group Compassion & Choices, she acknowledges that some people have been skeptical about her story.
‘When people criticize me for not waiting longer, or, you know, whatever they’ve decided is best for me, it hurts,’ she said, ‘because really, I risk it every day, every day that I wake up.’ Maynard also revealed that her health has been deteriorating and described a recent ‘terrifying’ day when she had two seizures and found herself unable to say her husband’s name.’I think sometimes people look at me and they think. ‘Well you don’t look as sick as you say you are,’ which hurts to hear, because when I’m having a seizure and I can’t speak afterwards, I certainly feel as sick as I am,’ she said. Maynard had previously said that she planned to take the medication she’d been prescribed on November 1 because she wanted to celebrate her husband’s birthday on October 30. ‘The worst thing that could happen to me is that I wait too long because I’m trying to seize each day,’ she said, ‘but I somehow have my autonomy taken away from me by my disease because of the nature of my cancer.’ After her recent visit to the Grand Canyon, Maynard had written on her website in glowing terms about the experience. ‘The Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was able to enjoy my time with the two things I love most: my family and nature,’ she wrote.
Dream trip: Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old cancer sufferer who will end her life on November 1, is pictured with her husband Dan at the Grand Canyon – a trip she had hoped to take before her death
Happy memories: Maynard, second right, and her husband were joined by her mother and stepfather
Images taken at the Canyon show her kissing her husband, Dan, and embracing her mother and stepfather, grins across their faces.
But just a day after the experience, she suffered her ‘worst seizure thus far’, which left her temporarily paralyzed and tired for the rest of the day. ‘The seizure was a harsh reminder that my symptoms continue to worsen as the tumor runs its course,’ she wrote. She finished the post by saying she found meaning in her battle for other states to implement right-to-die laws, as Oregon and four other state already have. ‘My dream is that every terminally ill American has access to the choice to die on their own terms with dignity,’ she wrote. ‘Please take an active role to make this a reality.’ Maynard gained nationwide attention after she shared a heart-wrenching video that explained why she was choosing to end her life at age 29 – while campaigning to expand right-to-die laws.
DO WHAT YOU CAN, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, WHERE YOU ARE: BRITTANY’S TOUCHING OBITUARY BY HER FAMILY
The following is the official obituary from the family of Brittany Maynard. Brittany Lauren Maynard was born in 1984 and forged a brief but solid 29 years of generosity, compassion, education, travel and humor. She happily met her husband, Daniel Diaz, in April of 2007, and they married, as best friends, five years later in September of 2012. This past year, on New Year’s Day, Brittany was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was given a terminal diagnosis for which there was no cure or life-saving measures available. In the face of such illness and pain, Brittany chose to live each day fully, traveled, and kept as physically active and busy as she possibly could.
‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’ – Theodore Roosevelt. A formula to live by, sick or well.
After being told by one doctor that ‘she probably didn’t even have weeks to be on her feet,’ she was found climbing 10-mile trails along the ice fields of Alaska with her best friend in the sunshine months later. ‘Speak your own truth, even when your voice shakes.’ she would say.
Brittany graduated from UC Berkeley as an undergrad, and received a Master’s in Education from UC Irvine. She believed in compassion, equity and that people would remember most how you made them feel in life. As Faulkner said, ‘Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If more people all over the world would do this, the world would change.’ She was an accomplished and adventuresome traveler who spent many months living solo and teaching in orphanages in Kathmandu, Nepal. That single experience forever changed her life and perspective on childhood, happiness, privilege and outcomes. She fell in love with her time in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Thailand. She spent a summer working in Costa Rica, and traveled to Tanzania, and summited Kilimanjaro with a girlfriend a month before her wedding. She took ice-climbing courses on Cayambe and Cotopaxi in Ecuador, and was an avid scuba diver who relished her time in the Galapagos, Zanzibar, Caymans and pretty much any island she ever visited. She loved her two dogs like family, a small Beagle and large Great Dane, and was always the one to take in lost dogs and find them homes. Brittany was a regular volunteer at a local animal rescue organization before her diagnosis.
Brittany chose to make a well-thought-out and informed choice to die with dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful and incurable illness. She moved to Oregon to pass away in a little yellow house she picked out in the beautiful city of Portland. Oregon is a place that strives to protect patient rights and autonomy; she wished that her home state of California had also been able to provide terminally ill patients with the same choice. 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. ‘The freedom is in the choice,’ she believed. ‘If the option of death with dignity 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.’
With great consideration, she gave personal interviews to the UK’s Tonight Show prior to death with dignity being addressed by their Parliament, as well as participated in a U.S.-based campaign for death-with-dignity education and legislation. She is survived by her faithful, practical and kind husband, Daniel Diaz, her loving, selfless mother, Deborah Ziegler, and honorable stepfather, Gary Holmes. And by Dan’s loving, supportive family: parents, Carmen and Barry, and brothers, David, Adrian and Alex, all of whom she adored and loved very deeply. While she had longed for children of her own, she left this world with zero regrets on time spent, places been, or people she loved in her 29 years. In this final message, she wanted to express a note of deep thanks to all her beautiful, smart, wonderful, supportive friends whom she ‘sought out like water’ during her life and illness for insight, support and the shared experience of a beautiful life. ‘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.’
‘Suicide’: On Twitter user said that Brittany had made the wrong decision ending her life
Controversial: Another agreed, saying she could not support the decision saying she was committing ‘suicide’
Inspirational: Another sad she was inspired by her story and strength and thanked Brittany for sharing it
Ending her pain: One social media user said she hoped Brittany was not suffering anymore
She explained that, after suffering intense headaches, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January and was initially given 10 years to live, which she said was devastating. But in a scan a few months later, doctors told her the cancer had progressed to Glioblastoma multiforme – an aggressive tumor. Sufferers have a life expectancy of around 14 months. When she learned that she would die painfully and slowly, she decided to move from her home in California to Oregon, which has a ‘Death with Dignity Act’. After releasing her video, critics lambasted her as selfish, but in an interview with CBS she said she was suffered immense pain – and wished she didn’t have to be making the decision. Maynard said her biggest regret is that she will never get to have a family. ‘I’d say most of my sadness centers around how much I wanted a family,’ Maynard told CBS This Morning. ‘And it feels like for me, that was always, like, how you created a legacy was, like, through your children. And sort of inadvertently – through sharing my story, I’ve realized there’s a bit of the legacy I’m creating this way and I’m not ashamed of that. I’m not ashamed to attach my name to what I think is a right that should belong to all terminally ill Americans.”I don’t want to die,’ Maynard explained. ‘If anyone wants to hand me, like, a magical cure and save my life so that I can have children with my husband, you know, I will take them up on it.’
She also has made a deal with her mother, Debbie, that if she travels to Machu Pichu in Peru after her passing, Brittany’s spirit will meet her up there among the breathtaking Inca ruins. In the same interview, Debbie, who raised Maynard on her own, talks about the discussion she had about her daughter when she learned of her decision. ‘Early on, I told her, ‘It would be my honor to take care of you, whichever way; if you need to be fed or diapered, it would be my honor,” she said. ‘And that was important for me, for her to know.’ Maynard’s husband, Dan Diaz, also spoke about how sad he is that he will not get to spend the rest of his life with the woman he married little over a year ago. ‘That was the original plan, right?’ he said. ‘But the reality that, I guess, that feeds into the argument of quality of life versus just quantity.’
THE NATION’S FIRST RIGHT-TO-DIE LAW AND HOW MANY PEOPLE IN OREGON HAVE USED IT
Oregon voters approved the Death with Dignity Act in 1994, but opponents persuaded a federal judge to issue an injunction temporarily blocking the law. Voters in November 1997 overwhelmingly reaffirmed the nation’s first aid-in-dying law and it’s been in place ever since.
According to state statistics compiled through Dec. 31, 2013:
— People who have used the law since late 1997: 752 (396 men, 356 women)
— People younger than 35 who have used the law: 6
— Median age of the deceased: 71
— Percentage of the deceased who were white: 97
— Percentage who had at least some college: 72
— Percentage of patients who informed relatives of their decision: 94
— Percentage of patients who died at a home: 95 percent
— Median minutes between ingestion of lethal drug and unconsciousness: 5
— Median minutes between ingestion and death: 25
— Number of terminally ill people who have moved to Oregon to die: unknown
DEATH-WITH-DIGNITY LAWS, WHICH CURRENTLY EXIST IN ONLY FIVE STATES
Brittany Maynard launched an online video campaign for Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life non-profit organization, to promote death-with-dignity laws, which currently exist in only five states. Washington, Oregon, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico allow people to die on their own terms, but Maynard says it is not enough. ‘Right now it’s a choice that’s only available to some Americans, which is really unethical,’ she said. Working through her foundation, The Brittany Fund, Maynard wants other states, like California, New Jersey and Colorado, to consider passing laws that would allow people to make the ultimate choice – life or death. Since Oregon lawmakers passed the Death with Dignity Act in 1997, more than 1,170 people have obtained prescriptions under the law, and fewer than half of them used them to end their lives. Brittany chose to make a well-thought-out and informed choice to die with dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful and incurable illness. (??!)