Brittany Maynard crossed yet another milestone off her bucket list this week when she paid a visit–along with her husband, mother, and stepfather–to the Grand Canyon. The trip was a difficult one and she reportedly had one of her worst seizures ever following the trip.
“Thanks to the kindness of Americans around the country who came forward to make my ‘bucket list’ dream come true,” she wrote in a statement. “The Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was able to enjoy my time with the two things I love most: my family and nature.”
“Sadly, it is impossible to forget my cancer … and unfortunately the next morning I had my worst seizure thus far,” she added. “My speech was paralyzed for quite a while after I regained consciousness. The seizure was a harsh reminder that my symptoms continue to worsen as the tumor runs its course. However, I find meaning and take pride that the Compassion & Choices movement is accelerating rapidly.”
Brittany Maynard has decided to end her life on November 1st. She suffers from a brain tumor that is slowly, but surely taking her life. She wants to ‘die with dignity,’ with her husband and parents at her side. Some people are completely in tune with her choice. Others are praying she will–even at the last minute–change her mind about taking her own life.
— People magazine (@peoplemag) October 24, 2014
Philip Johnson is also suffering from an incurable form of brain cancer. The 30-year-old is a Catholic seminarian who wants very much to live long enough to serve people as a priest. He wrote a letter just a few days ago to Brittany Maynard that he titled, ‘Dear Brittany, Our Lives Are Worth Living Even With Brain Cancer.’
“I have lived through six years of constant turmoil, seizures, and headaches. I often changed hospitals and doctors every few months, seeking some morsel of hope for survival. Like Brittany, I do not want to die, nor do I want to suffer the likely outcome of this disease. I do not think anyone wants to die in this way. Brittany states relief that she does not have to die the way that it has been explained that she would – she can die “on her own terms.” I have also consulted with my doctors to learn how my illness is likely to proceed. I will gradually lose control of my bodily functions at a young age, from paralysis to incontinence, and it is very likely that my mental faculties will also disappear and lead to confusion and hallucinations before my death. This terrifies me, but it does not make me any less of a person. My life means something to me, to God, and to my family and friends, and barring a miraculous recovery, it will continue to mean something long after I am paralyzed in a hospice bed. My family and friends love me for who I am, not just for the personality traits that will slowly slip away if this tumor progresses and takes my life,” Johnson writes.
“…Suffering is not worthless, and our lives are not our own to take. As humans we are relational – we relate to one another and the actions of one person affects others. We do not seek pain for its own sake, but our suffering can have great meaning if we try to join it to the Passion of Christ and offer it for the conversion or intentions of others. While often terrifying, the suffering and pain that we will all experience in our lives can be turned into something positive. This has been a very difficult task for me, but it is possible to achieve.”
Joni Eareckson-Tada is the founder of a ministry called Joni and Friends. It is dedicated to extending the love and message of Jesus Christ to people who are affected by disabilities around the world. Joni became a quadriplegic after a swimming accident in her teens and has also battled breast cancer.
Eareckson-Tada also wrote an open letter to Brittany Maynard, pleading with her to rethink her plan.
“The hours are ticking away; please, Brittany, open your heart to the only One who can do something about your pain and death,” Eareckson-Tada said in a blog post on her website.
“Life is the most irreplaceable and fundamental condition of the human experience, and I implore you to take a long, hard look at the consequences of your decision which is so fatal, and worst of all, so final,” she added.
Brittany Maynard moved to Oregon because it is one of only five states that allow people the ‘right to die.’ Her family backs her decision.
No one knows what Brittany Maynard or her family will experience in the next few days–those leading up to November 1st when she plans to end her life. No one knows what her family will experience in the days after the fact.
If Brittany Maynard were your loved one, which way do you expect you might go? Would you–like Philip Johnson and Joni Eareckson-Tada beg her to rethink her decision? Or would you resolve to watch her end her suffering from this disease that will wind up taking her life regardless of what is decided?