Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old cancer sufferer who has made headlines with her dignified choice to die via assisted suicide, has opted to alter her planned date of death from November 1st, saying she struggles because "it doesn't seem like the right time right now"
In a new video released yesterday to the Compassion and Choices YouTube channel, Brittany explained: "When people criticise me for not waiting longer or whatever they've decided is best for me it hurts because [this is a] risk every day, but I do it because 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 right now."
But she continued "the worst thing that could happen to me is that I wait too long because I'm trying to seize each day and I somehow have my autonomy taken away by my disease."
Brittany was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in January this year. She and her family moved from California to Oregon, one of only five states in the US that allow assisted dying by law, so that she could choose to have control over the end of her life.
Having met the criteria for Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act she was given prescription drugs which she can self-administer to die peacefully and painlessly at any time of her choice.
Originally she chose November 1st, two days after her husband's birthday, but in a newly released video she reveals that she doesn't want to be constricted by a particular date, although "it will come" because she can feel herself "getting sicker."
"But I still get out and do what I can, walking with my husband and my dogs, and things like that give me the greatest feelings of health I have these days."
Brittany has been working with Compassion and Choices to campaign for the right to assisted death, and made a heartbreaking video that went viral earlier this month about her choice. Since then, she has traveled to the Grand Canyon for the trip of a lifetime with her family, supported by, in her own words "the kindness of Americans around the country who came forward to make my bucket list dream come true."
In the new video, Brittany speaks tearfully about how she feels for her mother Debbie and husband Dan, who are set to lose a beloved family member. "Having been an only child for my mother I want her to recover from this and not break down or suffer from any kind of depression."
"My husband is such a lovely man and I understand everyone needs to grieve but I want him to be happy and I want him to have a family. I know that sounds weird but there's no part of me that wants him to live out his life just missing his wife. So I hope he moves on and becomes a father."
Her mother and her husband also spoke in the video, supporting her choice. Debbie, Brittany's mum, says that "it's not my job to tell her what to do... it's my job to love her through it." Brittany's husband Dan said: "It sounds so cliched but we are taking this one day at a time and that's the only way to get through this."
Brittany says "my goal of course is to influence this policy for positive change and I would like to see all Americans have access to the same healthcare rights, but beyond that... my goals mostly boil down to my family and friends and making sure they know how important they are to me and how much I love them."
Brittany also spoke about how the illness has affected her, particularly the terrifying seizures which render her speechless "I remember looking at my husband's face and thinking 'I know this is my husband but I can't say his name.' It's weird to wake up in my body every day because it feels so different. [...] I'm not full of self hate or loathing but it's just that my body has changed. Sometimes people look at me and think 'you don't look as sick as you say you are', which hurts to hear because when I'm having a seizure where I can't speak afterwards, I certainly feel as sick as I am."
Earlier this month, Brittany responded to critics of her choice in a blog post, including a TV interview with a by a US doctor, Ira Byock, who questioned her choice.
"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. “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'. I have been in charge of this choice, gaining control of a terrifying terminal disease through the application of my own humane logic."
Watch the video below.