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Right to die cancer sufferer Brittany Maynard goes on dream family trip to the Grand Canyon

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She's the 29-year-old San Francisco woman who caught the world's attention with her brave decision to publicise her choice to die via assisted suicide.

Now, just days before she plans to take her own life, cancer sufferer Brittany Maynard has posted about the trip of a lifetime she was able to enjoy with her family to the Grand Canyon. 

The newlywed has spent the last months of her life working to further the “death with dignity” cause in the US with organisation Compassion & Choices following her decision to end her own life on November 1.

She said donations from members of the public had helped her dream holiday with husband Dan Diaz and mother Debbie come true. 

Brittany Maynard

Brittany with her mother Debbie

“This week, my family and I traveled to the Grand Canyon, thanks to the kindness of Americans around the country who came forward to make my bucket list dream come true. The Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was able to enjoy my time with the two things I love most: my family and nature,” said Brittany, in a post on her website dated October 24.

“Sadly, it is impossible to forget my cancer. Severe headaches and neck pain are never far away, and unfortunately the next morning I had my worst seizure thus far. My speech was paralyzed for quite a while after I regained consciousness, and the feeling of fatigue continued for the rest of the day.

“... However, I find meaning and take pride that the Compassion & Choices movement is accelerating rapidly, thanks to supporters like you. I ask that you please continue to support C&C's state-by-state efforts to make death with dignity laws available to all Americans.”

Brittany Maynard

Brittany and her husband Dan

Brittany plans to die peacefully and painlessly surrounded by her loved ones using self-administered drugs on November 1. She went public with her choice in a video released by dignity organisation Compassion & Choices earlier this month.

The 29-year-old  moved from San Francisco to Oregon in order to have the choice of assisted suicide, a legal right which is currently available in only four other States - Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico (no equivalent exists in the UK). 

In one of her latest blog posts, Brittany spoke out against a physician claiming to speak on her behalf in the US right to die debate. Dr. Ira Byock has questioned whether Brittany is being exploited by Compassion & Choices in her bid to go public, and also suggested a gentle death may be available to her in a hospice.

“Unfortunately that [kind of death] would be after a great length of time, with lots of suffering (physical and emotional), and loss for my young body,” Brittany said, in her response to a TV appearance by Dr. Byock. 

“Perhaps most disturbingly, Byock claimed that Compassion & Choices had somehow taken advantage of me through “exploitation” and that I feel compelled to die now based on public expectations,” Brittany goes on. “I DO NOT, this is MY choice, I am not that weak. The day is my choice, I have the right to change my mind at any time, it is my right. I am very confident about this. This is a patient right that is critical to understanding death with dignity. 

“I am not depressed or suicidal or on a “slippery slope,” she added. “I have been in charge of this choice, gaining control of a terrifying terminal disease through the application of my own humane logic.” 

brittany and dan

Brittany and Dan on their wedding day

Brittany was diagnosed with brain cancer in January this year, just after returning from a romantic New Year's escape in San Francisco wine country with her husband Dan.

By April, she was told she had glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer and was given just six months to live.

“I can't tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don't have to die the way that it's been described to me, the way that a brain tumour would take me on its own,” she previously said.

“I plan to be surrounded by my immediate family, which is my husband, my mother, my stepfather and my best friend, who is also a physician. And I’ll die upstairs in my bedroom that I share with my husband, with my mother and my husband by my side, and pass peacefully with some music I like in the background.”

Since her diagnosis, Brittany has continued to travel and arranged special trips with her loved ones, including a trip to Yellow Stone National Park with her husband and a holiday to Alaska with her best friend - as well as this latest trip to the Grand Canyon.

Watch a video about her right to die choice, below. 

Photos and video: Brittany Maynard

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