Woman, 29, chooses to end her life Nov. 1, after husband’s birthday

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PORTLAND, Ore. - A terminally ill 29-year-old newlywed has chosen Nov. 1, two days after her husband's birthday, as the day she will die.

Shortly after her wedding last year, Brittany Maynard began experiencing debilitating headaches.

While on vacation with her husband in January, Brittany was diagnosed with grade II Astrocytoma, a severe brain tumor.

brittany-maynard-and-her-great-dane-charlie-late-2013.jpg

Courtesy: Brittany Maynard

Doctors told Maynard she had 10 years to live. 

“I have to tell you,” she says in the video, “when you’re 29 years old, being told you have that kind of timeline still feels like being told you’re going to die tomorrow.”

Following the initial diagnosis, doctors said her cancer had progressed to Glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest form of brain cancer.

After treatment, the average life expectancy is only 14 months.

Brittany was only given 6 months.

When doctors told Brittany her death would likely be slow and painful as the tumor continued to grow, she opted to choose her own ending.

On Nov. 1, surrounded by her husband, mother and best friend, she will end her life using medication prescribed by her doctor.

Maynard’s husband’s birthday is October 30.

The medication will give her a “peaceful and painless” ending to her life.

However, Brittany said this is not a suicide.

“There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die,” Maynard told People.com. “I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not. … Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying.”

Maynard’s family moved with her to Oregon earlier this year so she would have access to Oregon’s “Death with Dignity Act,” which has allowed over 750 people to die using medication since 1997.

Life-rights advocacy organization Compassion & Choices and The Brittany Maynard Fund will allow Brittany to share her story and bring attention to end-of-life rights.

According to Compassion & Choices, Brittany will spend her last days fighting for others’ rights to end their lives.

Maynard told People on that Nov. 1 she will pull apart 100 capsules of the sedative secobarbital, dissolve them in water, and drink it.

“I don’t want to die but I am dying,” Maynard tells PEOPLE in a new interview. “My [cancer] is going to kill me, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. So to be able to die with my family with me, to have control over my own mind, which I would stand to lose – to go with dignity is less terrifying.”

Maynard will not speak again publicly as she “heads into her final weeks,” her representative said on Monday. She also posted an update on her blog earlier this month:

“The response from you all has surpassed our wildest expectations. On behalf of my family, thank you for the outpouring of love and support.

This journey has been challenging, to say the least. We’ve uprooted our lives. I take prescription drugs to reduce the swelling in my brain, that have caused my entire body to swell instead. Dan and I have given up our dreams of having a family. My mother is soon to lose her only child. We can all agree that no parent should bury their child.

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.

I am so lucky to have known the love of an amazing husband (my husband Dan is a hero), a loving, caring mother, and an incredible group of friends and extended family. As my time draws closer, I hope you will all take up my request to carry on this work, and support them as they carry on my legacy. I’m so grateful to you all.”

Source: WJW

105 comments

  • Dyan Nelson-Haugen

    Ms. Maynard and her family has made a decision the none of us would have to make. I have a ” Living Will ” for should something similar, or accident, would leave me in a state where 2 Drs. agree that there is no hope, I would be in a vegetative state, or coma with little brain activity, then pull the plug. I have had this for 25+ yrs. and I was pregnant with my 4th son when I had it made up. It was mostly to save him, but I had family support and my kids are all aware of it so they don’t have to make that decision.

  • Ashley

    I respect her decision, and I think she is very brave because death can be a very scary thing. I don’t want anyone telling me how to live or how to die. I’m not a religious person, but I also respect others who are. It’s their right to believe whatever they want (even if I think it’s ludicrous at times). I don’t know if prayer works, but I do think the act of praying at least puts you into a positive state of mind where you are putting your wish out to the universe (or God if he’s there) sort of like meditating does too. A positive mindset never hurts, so if praying and believing is keeping you positive and makes you feel fulfilled- go for it. Just remember there are plenty of other religions out there with old books who think they are right too. What makes your religion any betters truer than there’s? Absolutely nothing. So moral of the story is respect each other, spread only love, and remember what your mom used to say: if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

  • Erika

    My Dad Had GMB and now there is a trial treatment called AVASTIN its stopes the blood cells from feeding the tumor, he was told his was stage 4 and they were able to do surgery in NOVEMBER 2013, He is now getting the trail treatment and the tumors have not gotten any bigger. He is able to live his life as he likes .. I would never give up hope! there are many different things out in the world today that the dr’s can try. Dont give up!

  • Anne

    Why are you planning your death 2 days after your husbands birthday? Why so soon? Have you started suffering already? All the negativity and fighting on this page is sad.

  • Jim

    It is really sad when people give up hope like this when diagnosed with cancer. There are other choices available rather than cutting off body parts or ending your life. Information is widely available on alternative treatments if people can accept the possibility that there is more to cancer treatment than radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. In the past 100 years we’ve progressed from wanting to fly, to landing on the moon. We’ve gone from reading a book by candlelight to a world visible from space with billions of light bulbs shining. Open heart surgery is common-place now, but we still only have radiation, chemotherapy and surgery to deal with cancer. It’s even against the law to say someone was “cured” of cancer. You have to call them a “survivor”. Check out how many times someone has claimed to cure cancer but was instantly labeled a “quack” and silenced or run out of the country. Don’t accept what mainstream medicine is saying is the “truth”. Please do more research before you give up all hope because there is always hope no matter what they tell you.

    • bob

      Name one new-age loon who has survived glioblastoma. Just one. I’ll personally get a coffee enema if you can provide evidence that ANYONE has beaten that disease by ANY means, much less “natural treatments.”

      By the way, I’d love to know what an UNNATURAL treatment is. Something that comes from another universe through a freak wormhole in the time-space continuum? Everything is “natural”. Otherwise it wouldn’t exist.

      • Daniel

        Well said, people who think there is a possibility for cure for GBM are unfortunately wrong. It is a diagnosis that you will eventually succumb to. I am in neurosurgery residency currently and see this on a near daily basis and it is truly a very depressing thing. Hopefully in our lifetime some significant progress will be made in the treatment of this disease.

  • MJ

    I have such mixed thoughts on this. Article posted 1 year to the day my dear sister Theresa left us.

    I watched my sister struggle for each extra day since 2005-13 battling several different types of cancer, and the complication that accompanied meds and treatments. I watched the pain she endured. She would have not willingly chosen to leave us. In the end my sister had 2 choices to suffer in uncontrollable pain and maybe have 1 or 2 weeks at most. Living(if you can call it that) in such pain that no medication could take even a moment of her pain from her, as the cancers devoured her internally. Or a complication of her cancer (stage 4 acute renal failure) be allowed to run its course. Our old enemy we had fought and beaten back so many times, who would have thought would be kinder to her in the end. To watch someone you love, and would move heaven and earth for unable to even tolerate the feel of a sheet against her skin. The screams of pain, simply because a person needs a dressing change, or cleaned up. Holding her hand as we count out loud the seconds, as we pulled and changed the pads under her bottom. The pain of the failed surgery to bypass her kidneys a few days before, to relieve the blockage of the fast growing tumors shutting and blocking her kidneys and other organs.

    If we lived in Oregon would those last days have been easier for her?

    Though I never wanted to see those beautiful, gentle, brown eyes, so full of love and compassion close for the last time. Could her last days have spared that pain, as cancers took her from us. When even the high doses of pain medication she was on no longer worked. As she lay comatose, and we sat with her and waited for her body to rest and let go. It was not an easy battle, my sister was a survivor, with a strong heart and will to live. Even as she was begging for release, and telling me she wanted to go. My sister, was a fighter. She always came back to us, even when the doctors said she could not come back in 2005. She was our miracle girl, she was a mother that did not want to leave her son, she was a daughter, a sister, a gentle soul that loved and lived with all her heart. If I could only be half the person she was. She was our Saint Theresa.

    After the Hospice nurse(wonderful dear people) said the time was upon us, the coma to deep, she wouldn’t wake. My courageous sister, so strong…she opened her eyes, no longer able to speak, she communicated with her eyes and hand squeezes. She left us lucid, knowing she was surrounded by those that loved her, and love her still.

    God gave her those last moments. I think my sister used her last moments for us, not her. Because she was telling us it was time to let her go, she was ready. She always put the needs of others before herself. She told us good bye, to help us let her go.

    If my sister had had that choice the people in Oregon have. Would she have chosen it? I don’t know. And how do those left behind cope with either choice the patient makes.

    Even when all medical options have been exhausted, hope and faith still sustain your fight for one more day, one more moment. But I think also, when that moment comes, and there is no longer any hope of survival a gentle good night is preferable to last moments of excruciating, unendurable pain. Regardless of if we agree or not, I think it is the patient that should be given the choice when no other choices can be made. For those that don’t agree, I don’t have an agreement or argument. Because I don’t know myself, the situation or choice I would make in that moment. Each person, the disease and pain level they are dealing with are quite different. For those that adamantly oppose the right for a terminal patient to choose, I can only say this. May you never have to endure the pain yourself, or sit helplessly watching a loved one suffer in agony.

    In the end I still don’t know the answer, right or wrong.

    • bob

      A lovely choice. And I emphasize the word “choice.”

      This young woman plans to do exactly the same thing. She just isn’t going to wait for the really horrible stuff.

  • Erica Organ

    Brittany didn’t ask for any of the judgments being made by strangers in these comments. What if you all just except the decision that is her’s to make. I would guess she is very informed about her condition, no two people are the same even with the exact diagnoses. The world today is so screwed up, everyone thinks they are judge and jury. If you don’t agree don’t comment, if you do agree wish her well. To Brittany- May you find comfort and peace.

  • Stormy

    I really like how this article about a woman who is strong enough to make the decision to end her own life headlines with the fact that it correlates with her husbands birthday.

  • Cindy

    My son was given 5 years to live at age 18 on Christmas eve we were told this. He has
    Anaplastic Astrocytoma Grade III .My son went to Tampa General Hospital had surgery with Dr. Love and then treatments at Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida and is now 32 years young!!! Thank you God for this blessing. He is an ICU nurse and now wants to become a doctor.

    • bob

      Great! Glad to hear it. Fortunately he had a curable illness. Difficult to cure, but curable.

      The woman in the story has a totally incurable disease with a 100% mortality rate. No Earthly power can save her, and no other power has ever chosen to save anyone with that condition, ever, so I think it’s a safe bet she won’t be going to medical school.

  • bob

    I’ve watched several faithful Mormons die of cancer despite “blessings.” To a believer such a rite can certainly have powerful psychological advantages, and sometimes even have physical effects. That’s the power of the human mind at work. But it can’t cure terminal cancer. EVER. She will die.

    If believers want to do what you suggest, more power to them. It certainly can’t hurt. But to suggest that she’d be cured? If so, it would be the first time in history that actually happened.

    I don’t, however, why someone’s belief in such rites is SO offensive to so many people. Evangelical Atheists make no sense to me at all. But neither does any other religion.

  • Zach

    When people ask her how she died, tell them how she lived. I applaud her for taking such a step and she will be remembered for her dignity and courage. As humans we all want to cling to life because of the uncertainty of what lies beyond it. We make up religion to fill that void and to explain what we currently don’t know for certain. I am an agnostic but clinging to the idea that we may have immortality does seem inviting. However, being good just for the sake of being good and knowing that their is an absolute end is and of itself, morally seems stronger in my humble opinion. Making the decision to kill yourself is therefore probably the bravest act, whether it is a soldier giving up his life for a fellow human or this woman taking her own life so she and her family don’t suffer what would be an agonizing and horrible death. Everyone should have the right to take their own life legally and with the help of professionals. The point where assisted suicide becomes evil and immoral is when the younger generation tries to force it upon the old in order to take inheritance earlier.

  • Ashley Rader

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mom-stuns-doctors-beating-deadliest-brain-cancer/story?id=18135106

    I hope she sees this before she decides to do it, this is a link to a woman who had two tumors and the same type of cancer is this 29 year old. she was diagnosed at 24 years old and decided to battle the cancer and is now completely free of it. it can be treated and it can be beaten no matter how bad the odds are. just thought I should put that out thereits not a hundred but it would kill her.

  • James Kurmay

    I could imagine the pressure and fear going through this beautiful woman mind , it is very sad she is only 29 years of age and had the life she has lived but only know that GOD has a plan for you I promise that my heart goes out to you and your family !

  • Paramjit

    Dear Brittnay Maynard, If u want help to cure your disease, Contact me on my Mobile immediately. Ph. 9417181151, 9803545955. I am from India.

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