PORTLAND — A 29-year-old woman has chosen Nov. 1, 2014 as the day she will die — two days after her husband’s birthday.
Brittany Maynard was a vibrant young woman. She has run several half marathons, spent a year traveling through Southeast Asia and once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, East Africa.
On Jan. 1, 2014 her world changed when she was diagnosed with grade II astrocytoma, a severe brain tumor. Doctors predicted she had 10 years to live.
“When you’re 29 years old, being told you have that kind of timeline still feels like being told you’re going to die tomorrow,” she said.
Despite having surgery, her prognosis took a dramatic turn for the worse a few months later. The cancer had progressed to glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the deadliest form of brain cancer. With it, patients typically live about 14.6 months. Maynard was given just six. Doctors said her death would be slow and painful as the tumor grew, causing her headaches, nausea, vomiting, weakness and seizures.
Maynard has chosen to use medicine prescribed by her doctor to end her life on Nov. 1 so that she may die with dignity, she said. She’s adamant that her decision is not suicide.
“There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die,” she told PEOPLE Magazine. “I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not.”
Maynard has joined forces with Compassion and Choices, an end-of-life advocacy organization. She will spend her remaining days fighting for others’ right to die.
“Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying,” she said.
Maynard and her entire family moved to Portland after her diagnosis in order to have access to Oregon’s Death and Dignity Act, launched in 1997. Since then, 752 people have used it to legally choose death by prescription medication.