Brittany Maynard, 29, had earlier promised the whole world that she would take her own life amidst family and friends on Saturday, November 1, 2014 following the inability of medical doctors to find cure for her cancerous brain tumor. And according to her schedule and well-planned out choice, she took her own life just as she wanted.
She wanted to pass out in her matrimonial bed with soft music playing in background, and family members surrounding her – and that is what happened.
The fatal brain tumor that Brittany Maynard suffered from caused her severe neck and head pains, and also induced terrible seizures and prolonged stroke-like symptoms that made her to temporarily lose bodily functions and ability. Doctors had also told her she was going to die within six months. And this was when Brittany decided that she would not allow her cancerous brain tumor to determine how she lived and when she died – she’d do it herself. And she did. Joyfully. Even campaigning for others to choose a way to die in the face of chronically terminal diseases.
Brittany moved from California to Oregon with a few family members when she learnt that California’s laws do not allow for death with dignity. Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico are the only five US states that allow for Death With Dignity laws, and she chose Oregon. She also became an avid campaigner for Compassion & Choice, the national non-profit organization that advocated for dying with dignity in Oregon. Compassion & Choices arranged for how she was to go on her own terms, and provided the needed support she needed to pass through her ordeal.
According to Brittany, “I didn’t launch this campaign because I wanted attention; in fact, it’s hard for me to process it all. I did this because I want to see a world where everyone has access to death with dignity, as I have had. My journey is easier because of this choice. It’s crazy to me that other patients suffering with terminal illness don’t have the same choice and may not have the same flexibility to pick up and move with their family.”
Brittany Maynard goes further to defend her choice to death with dignity. “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.”
Brittany took a fatal dose of water, sedatives, and respiratory-system depressants that she had received from doctors months before. Sean Crowley, a spokesman for Compassion & Choices stated that “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.”
“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love,” the 29-year-old posted on Facebook. “Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness. 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. So being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying. For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me,” she added in the interview. “They try to mix it up with suicide and that’s really unfair, because there’s not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying.”
Having foreseen the media buzz and legislative debates that her death would produce, Brittany thanked everyone for supporting her. “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.