Though it sounded like she might be having second thoughts last week, 29-year-old death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard decided to end her life as originally planned, on Saturday, November 1. She posted a message to friends on Facebook, and as People magazine and multiple media outlets reported on Sunday, she died at her home in Portland, Oregon.
Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!
Maynard, who had been living in San Francisco with her husband and was married in the wine country just last year, relocated her entire family to Oregon earlier this year after getting her diagnosis and deciding to take advantage of their Death With Dignity law. Washington, Vermont, Montana and New Mexico are the only other states with such laws, and as Maynard told the Chronicle, "It's crazy to me that other patients suffering with terminal illness don’t have the same choice and may not have the same flexibility to pick up and move with their family." As Time shows via some info-graphics, 79 percent of those who choose to end their lives under these laws have malignant tumors like Maynard. 7 percent suffer from ALS. And 95 percent are able to die in their own homes.
Advocates say that Maynard's story, and the powerful video she released in early October through the organization Compassion & Choices, has helped breathe new life into a stalled movement, which Maynard herself wanted to distance from the word "suicide."
"For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me," she said. "They try to mix it up with suicide and that's really unfair, because there's not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying."
Maynard was diagnosed in April with stage 4 glioblastoma multiforme, the most lethal and quickly moving form of brain cancer.
She managed to scratch one item off her bucket list in recent weeks, visiting the Grand Canyon, but the progression of her disease meant that even that trip was marred by severe seizures and headaches. Maynard had said she wanted to avoid the horrific end stages of brain cancer like hers, which would have left her entirely disabled and likely unable to communicate or recognize her own family.
As noted on The Brittany Fund site, set up to raise money for the cause of bringing death-with-dignity laws to more states, Maynard is survived by her husband Daniel Diaz, her mother Deborah Ziegler, step-father Gary Holmes; and by Dan's family, Carmen and Barry Diaz, and brothers, David, Adrian, and Alex. "All of whom she adored and loved very deeply."
See a more complete obituary and memoriam here, via People.