Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

"Why I'm choosing to die on November 1" cancer sufferer Brittany Maynard, 29, speaks out on assisted suicide

Untitled-2.jpg

Newlywed cancer sufferer Brittany Maynard has chosen to die on November 1 this year, just two days after her husband's birthday.

The 29-year-old San Francisco woman has taken the brave decision both to end her life by assisted suicide, and to broadcast that choice in order to further the "death with dignity" cause in the States.

After months of suffering debilitating headaches, Brittany was diagnosed with brain cancer in January this year. She had just returned from a romantic New Year's escape in San Francisco wine country with her husband Dan Diaz.

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.

In a video and article released this week via death with dignity organisation Compassion For Choices, Brittany explained why she and her family have chosen to move from San Francisco to Oregon - one of the five US States with laws to help terminally ill people die (the other four are Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico).

Brittany met the criteria for Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act and was given prescription drugs which she can self-administer to die peacefully and painlessly at any time of her choice. She has gone with November 1, and plans to die surrounded by her loved ones.

Brittany Maynard

29-year-old Brittany Maynard is terminally ill with brain cancer

"After months of research my family and I reached a heartbreaking conclusion. There is no treatment that would save my life and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I had left," Brittany explains.

"Because the rest of my body is young and healthy I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind. I did not want this nightmare scenario for my family so I started researching death with dignity. I quickly decided that death with dignity was the best option for me and my family."

"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," she goes on. "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.”

Brittany's husband Dan Diaz adds that the choice is "between suffering and being alive to decide enough is enough, which to me provides a lot of relief and comfort that, OK that option is there, if and when she decides it's time."

"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," says Brittany.

Brittany Maynard and her husband Dan

Brittany and her husband Dan Diaz on New Year's, just days before her diagnosis

Brittany is emphatic that her decision does not mean that she is suicidal right now. "I am not suicidal. If I were I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying," she says.

Before she was diagnosed, the 29-year-old had a passion for life and travelling, and spent her time seeing the world (including a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro) and running half-marathons.

"My husband and I were actively trying for a family, which is heartbreaking for us," she says, of the time when she found out she had brain cancer.

Since her diagnosis, she has continued to travel and arranged special trips with her loved ones, including a trip to Yellow Stone National Park with her husband Dan and a holiday to Alaska with her best friend.

Brittany's mother Debbie, who describes her daughter as "very, very bright" and headstrong, has promised Brittany that she will go on a travelling adventure to Machu Picchu after she has died, and that Brittany "would meet me there".

Brittany Maynard

Brittany and Dan on their wedding day

Brittany is currently on strong medication to minimise the increasing pain and seizures that her brain tumour has brought on. Nevertheless, she agreed to film the video below, in order to spread the word on death with dignity and the need for a greater spread of assisted suicide laws in the US.

"Unfortunately, these drugs come with their own frustrating set of side effects including rapid weight gain and swelling of the face," a statement on her website, The Brittany Fund, reads. "In spite of some profound shyness regarding her new prescription drug-induced appearance, Brittany agreed to be interviewed on film regarding Death with Dignity because her strong belief in the ethics of this basic healthcare human right."

It's not clear when the video was filmed but Brittany has been in and out of hospital recently suffering from seizures.

"I hope to enjoy however many days I have left on this beautiful earth and spend as much of it outdoors as I can, surrounded by those I love," Brittany signs off in the video. "I hope to pass in peace. The reason to consider life, and what's of value, is to make sure that you're not missing out. Seize the day. What's important to you? What do you care about? What matters? Pursue that. Forget the rest."

Currently only five US states - Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico — have laws to help terminally ill patients die, and the practise is illegal in the UK. Find out more about Brittany's campaign on The Brittany Fund or Compassion & Choices, or watch the video below.

Related

104385800_rt_V3.jpg

The newest star of Girl. Gillian Jacobs on TV and alcohol abstinence

Caroline de Maigret 3.jpg

The most stylish women to follow on Instagram

aaj4n629_2_rt_mp1.jpg

Lena Dunham explores the enduring bond between sisters

Comments

More

“Access to civil partnership is a feminist issue”

Katie Russell explains why the institution of marriage does not serve women

by The Stylist web team
22 Feb 2017

Katy Perry’s “best friend” Sia helped her beat the Donald Trump blues

Hey, what are friends for?

by Moya Crockett
22 Feb 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Allison Williams' perfect partner to Malia Obama's alpine break

by Nicola Colyer
22 Feb 2017

Jennifer Lopez dismantles the stigma of older women dating younger men

Because being a cougar is not a thing.

by Moya Crockett
22 Feb 2017

Amber Tamblyn’s baby name announcement is genius

Touché, Tamblyn. Touché…

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Feb 2017

Naomie Harris hits back at people asking when she’s going to have kids

The actor is sick of people quizzing her about her reproductive choices

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Feb 2017

Anna Kendrick reveals why she doesn’t want to be a bridesmaid. Ever.

We can definitely relate to this…

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Feb 2017

Fears for George! Clooney, 56, prepares for twilight fatherhood

How on earth will the ageing actor juggle twins with his career?

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson reveal how they beat cancer together

Forget Disney; these two are the definition of true love

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017

Fearne Cotton explains how social media can damage our mental health

“It’s that awful compare and despair thing”

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Feb 2017