Tuesday December 07, 2021

We should respect terminally ill woman’s choice to die
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By Andrea Peyser
November 3, 2014

We should respect terminally ill woman's choice to die

She was the unofficial spokeswoman for the right-to-die movement.

Brittany Maynard, who was just 29 years old, faced her decision to take her own life with a calm acceptance and unimaginable grace.

I was in awe of her.

Maynard, who suffered from an inoperable brain tumor, died in her Oregon bedroom, according to an obituary posted on her Web site.

People magazine reported online that she took a lethal dose of barbiturates on Saturday, as she had planned.

She simply drifted off to sleep. Forever.

I am overcome with sadness, but also with joy. For Maynard accomplished something both brave and rare. She died on her own terms. She beat the grim reaper at his own game. She ended her life before her suffering became so unbearable, her pain so great, she’d have no choice but to linger in misery.

Rest in peace.

She had so much to live for.

In a video released Wednesday by the nonprofit death-with-dignity advocacy group Compassion & Choices, Maynard said she was not ready to leave this world — yet.

“I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time [to die] now,’’ she said.

“But it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It’s happening each week.’’

I was moved to tears after hearing about Maynard’s ordeal, which made international headlines last month. In January, after she’d been married just over a year to the love of her life, Dan Diaz, 43, doctors told Maynard her excruciating headaches were caused by a brain tumor.

After undergoing two surgeries, she learned in April that her tumor had not only returned, it was Stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme, a malignant, aggressive form of brain cancer that was bound to kill her, slowly and painfully, in about six months if she did not take action first.

Maynard, who had trained to become a teacher before getting sick, abandoned plans to have children with Diaz. Her mother, Debbie Ziegler, 56, faced losing her only child.

Maynard set her date with death for Saturday, she announced in a viral video posted on YouTube. She planned to die in her bedroom, surrounded by her husband, mother, stepfather and best friend.

“There’s not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die,’’ she told People magazine in a cover story. “I want to live. I wish that there was a cure for my disease, but there is not.’’

Diaz took a leave of absence from his job as a market researcher, and Maynard and her family moved from California to Oregon, where the so-called Death with Dignity Act, which took effect in 1997, made it the first of five American states in which physicians may legally prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill, mentally competent adults.

As of Dec. 31, 2013, 752 people, at a median age of 71, have chosen to die with doctors’ assistance in Oregon. But unlike the faces of her counterparts in suffering, Maynard’s face, still beautiful but bloated, her body made larger by life-prolonging medicine, became the face of a crusade.

Compassion & Choices established The Brittany Maynard Fund to raise money in her name to pay for its efforts to lobby state governments for laws permitting physician-assisted suicide.

On Oct. 24, a video was released online in which Maynard said she’d ticked off the last item on her bucket list. She’d visited the Grand Canyon with her husband and family.

I think we should applaud Brittany Maynard’s choice.

Life is precious. She knew that.

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