By Brooke Randolph, LMHC
Brittany Maynard is facing a medical prognosis that no one wants to face — brain cancer. Specifically, glioblastoma multiforme, the most lethal form of brain cancer. The otherwise vibrant 29-year-old was given months to live and the likelihood of a difficult decline and “terrible, terrible way to die.” She is still traveling and spending time with loved ones, but she is also dedicating her time to advocate for those in similar situations who want to die with dignity. Brittany makes it clear that she is not suicidal, she wants to live, but facing this future, she is choosing to die with the help of physician prescribed medication. She wants more people to be able to make the same choice.
For Brittany to even have this choice, she had to move her entire family from California to Oregon, establish a new medical treatment team, and find a doctor willing to write the prescription. In California, and many states, this was not an option for her. In fact, it is only legal in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico currently.
Already experiencing decline, falls, and seizures, Brittany plans to videotape testimony to be played for California lawmakers to hopefully help change those laws. She plans to visit the Grand Canyon and celebrate her husband’s birthday on October 30th. She has set November 1st as the day that she will take the medication in the bedroom she shares with her husband, with her husband, mother, stepfather, and best friend (who is also a physician).
According to the Brittany Maynard Fund, an initiative of Compassion & Choices, “Death-with-dignity or aid in dying is a medical practice in which a terminally ill and mentally competent adult requests, and a doctor prescribes, a life-ending medication the person self-administers.” Recent national polling puts public support for aid in dying at 70 percent…Death-with-dignity laws are voluntary. An eligible person can request the prescription, but no doctor is obligated to provide it. Once a prescription is written, the patient chooses when and whether to fill it – or take it. Most people never take it. Simply having the choice provides people a sense of peace in the face of uncertainty and fear that their suffering might be unbearable. It allows people the freedom to die in control, with dignity.
If you were faced with a prognosis like Brittany’s, would you want the option to choose to die on your own terms?
image via thebrittanyfund.org