Brittany Maynard Didn’t End Her Life — Cancer Did

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brittany-maynardLast week, two days before Brittany Maynard was “scheduled” to end her life by assisted suicide – she made what appeared to be a last minute decision to hold on a little longer. She ended up taking her life as she had planned this past weekend, surrounded by family and friends in her home. She was able to die surrounded by loved ones and on her own terms. All those who are judging her for taking her own life should remember– the cancer took her life. She just decided how much she was willing to suffer.

Maynard’s struggle went viral this year, and sparked a discussion about terminal illness and someone’s right to decide if they don’t want to live though such a thing. There are currently only five states in which assisted suicide is legal in varying degrees: Oregon, Washington, Vermont, New Mexico and Montana. Maynard’s very public decision to move to Oregon so she would be legally permitted to decide when she wanted to die brought a huge amount of attention to a conversation we really need to have. Shouldn’t someone be allowed to decide that they do not want the devastating effects of an illness to impact their autonomy and ability to live without being a burden on their families? Her obituary is posted on her site, The Brittany Maynard Fund.

There were those who supported her and those who didn’t. But I think her last days prove what a strong, compassionate individual she was. She didn’t want to suffer the way she knew she would if she allowed her terminal brain cancer to naturally continue its trajectory. She wanted to spare her family of those last, excruciating months. She wanted to make the decision to end her life while she was still fully mentally capable of making that decision. That is powerful. That is courageous. And I really hope that video she released last week kept all the people who would take it upon themselves to “pray for her soul” off of her lawn so she could die in peace. Not sure if that was the purpose of coming out with the video to hint that she had changed her mind about the date — but if it was, it was genius.

Maynard has accomplished so much since her terminal diagnosis. She allowed the last months of her life to be lived publicly, knowing she was serving a greater good by bringing attention to the nation’s leading end-of-life choice advocacy organization, Compassion and Choices. She opened herself up to all sorts of scrutiny in the last days of her life – that had to be a difficult decision. The millions and millions of views her videos have garnered and the amount of people she has reached with her message is incredible.

I am so proud of this brave woman. I’m so glad she got to leave this world on her terms and I wish nothing but peace for her family and friends.

(photo: Twitter)