Brittany Maynard has less than one month to live, but her terminal brain cancer won't be taking her life. Maynard has decided to end her own life rather than endure a long, painful death at the hands of cancer.
Maynard announced to the media earlier this month that she intends to take her own life on November 1. She and her husband this year moved to Oregon, one of the few states where assisted suicide is legal. In a recent editorial published by CNN Maynard revealed that she is already in possession of the doctor-prescribed drugs that will end her life. From the editorial:
I've had the medication for weeks. 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. And I want to die on my own terms.
In January Maynard was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. She underwent a partial craniotomy to remove the tumor, but the surgery didn't succeed. Maynard's cancer was back by April and doctors gave her only six months to live. Instead of facing months of radiation therapy, pain, and possible cognitive difficulties Maynard chose to forego treatment and seek out a "death with dignity" option.
Maynard recently spoke again with People to describe her final vacation plans. She told the publication that she and her family had a "beautiful day" driving through Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. Maynard's mother stated that a trip to the Grand Canyon was also possible before the end of the month.
Maynard's decision has become a rallying cry for advocates of assisted suicide. The topic has been largely absent from U.S. political debate in recent years, but Maynard's story looks to bring more attention to the topic. Maynard has partnered with Compassion and Choices, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting assisted suicide, to create The Brittany Maynard Fund. Maynard recently posted an update to the fund's blog, urging people to support the cause and help those who would otherwise die in pain.
I didn't launch this campaign because I wanted attention; in fact, it's hard for me to process it all. I did this because I want to see a world where everyone has access to death with dignity, as I have had. My journey is easier because of this choice.