29-year-old woman takes her fatal illness into her own hands
By NADIA SIKANDER
Twenty-nine-year-old Brittany Maynard knows she's going to die on November 1st; she knows this because it's the date she has chosen to pass.
Brittany has always been a brave soul -- living her life fearlessly as she ventured through Southeast Asia for a year and even trekking Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the highest mountains in the world.
Then in January of 2014 her life changed drastically. Brittany and her husband had been celebrating New Year's when she was diagnosed with gioblastoma multiforme, an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer.
After suffering from debilitating headaches for some time following her wedding, the 29-year-old newlywed was told she'd only have six months to live.
The shocking news left Brittany and her family with few choices and a difficult decision to make -- suffer the excruciating pain of the tumor and the side effects of its medications, or die on her 'own terms.'
Brittany and her family chose the latter, and moved to Oregon where they would apply for the Death with Dignity Act, which allows those who are terminally-ill to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose.
"There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die," she told People in an interview. "I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease, but there's not."
In a video campaign for Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization that stands for patient rights and advocates for access to end-of-life options for all, Maynard explains her heartbreaking decision.
"I don't wake up every day and look at it. It's in a safe spot and it's there when I need it," she said in a video for uploaded to Youtube for Compassion & Choices.
Maynard's campaign aims to expand death-with-dignity laws around the United States, which is currently in place in only five states, Oregon, Montana, Washington, New Mexico and Vermont.
As a result, access to the law often means expensive moves where entire families are uprooted from their homes -- something many cannot afford.
"Death with dignity allows ... people to decide when enough is enough," said her husband, Dan Diaz.
In her last days has a few plans: she'll celebrate her husband's birthday on October 30th and then peacefully pass.
"I hope to enjoy however many days I have left on this beautiful earth and spend as much of it outside as I can, surrounded by those I love. The reason to consider life and what's of value is to make sure you're not missing out," she said.
"Seize the day. What's important to you? What do you care about? What matters? Pursue that, forget the rest."