What if you knew you weren’t going to make it to age 30? What would you do? Doctors recently told 29 year old Brittany Maynard that she had a rare tumor in her brain that would stop her from living to celebrate her 30th birthday. Brittany decided to take matters into her own hands.
When Brittany learned that she had stage IV glioblastoma multiforme- a rare type of brain cancer that would kill her in a matter of months, she was living in California, but she and her husband decided to move to Oregon after the diagnosis. This is because Oregon is one of a handful of states that upholds what’s known as the Death With Dignity Act. This act provides options for dying individuals to choose when and how they would like to end their life, helping ensure that their final time on earth will be filled with as little pain and suffering as possible.
Brittany told People magazine, “My glioblastoma is going to kill me, and that’s out of my control. I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying.”
Brittany has chosen to end her life on November 1st, in order to spend October 30th with her husband on his birthday. She will take prescription medication in her own room surrounded by her closest family and best friend. “Now that I’ve had the prescription filled and it’s in my possession, I have experienced a tremendous sense of relief,” Brittany said. “And if I decide to change my mind about taking the medication, I will not take it. Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty and pain.”
Though the Death With Dignity Act has become more accepted in recent years, and has been adopted in Washington, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico, there is still some pushback against it. People are saying that a terminally ill patient choosing to end their life early is still committing suicide calling and calling the Death With Dignity act ‘assisted suicide’ and ‘euthanasia.’ Brittany has said this in response: “There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die. I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not.”
I’d never heard of Death With Dignity or glioblastoma multiforme before Brittany’s story. I’m glad that she’s able to end her life on her terms and not completely at the mercy of her disease. My heart breaks for this brave, beautiful woman who will not live to see age 30.
You can join me in signing a thank you card to Brittany. Her story of courage at the end of life has become an inspiration to millions of people around the world.