Speed Reads

advocacy

Terminally ill woman planning to end her life fights for 'death with dignity' rights

Brittany Maynard has decided to end her life on Nov. 1, 2014. Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in January, she does not want to live her last days in pain. Instead, she plans on taking pills prescribed by a doctor so she can die at home in her bedroom with loved ones. Maynard is adamant about one thing: This is not a suicide.

"There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die," she told People. "I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there's not."

After experiencing severe headaches, the 29-year-old went to the doctor and was told she has brain cancer and could expect to live about 10 more years. A few weeks later, doctors delivered a harder blow: she has glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer, and only had months left instead of years. After letting the news sink in, Maynard came to the decision to end her life. "It took people a while to come around to agreeing with me," she told ABC. "Those who love you are never going to jump on board right away."

Maynard and her husband moved from the San Francisco area to Oregon, one of only five U.S. states that have "death with dignity" laws. She chose Nov. 1 so she could celebrate her husband's birthday Oct. 30, and she plans on being surrounded by her husband, mother, stepfather, and best friend. Before that, she will advocate for "death with dignity" laws in every state through her Brittany Maynard Fund; she believes every terminally ill person who is mentally competent deserves the right to die on their own terms in their own home.

Maynard's condition is deteriorating quickly, and when she isn't bringing awareness to the Brittany Maynard Fund, she is traveling — the Grand Canyon is next on her list. Her failing health reminds her that the choice she has made is the right one for her, and only hopes to "pass in peace." --Catherine Garcia