Woman Who Wants To “Die On Her Own Terms” Faces End Of Her Life

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CBS News – Brittany Maynard thinks she may die before the end of the month — and she seems very sure that she is going to end her life on her terms. But as certain as she seems, there’s a lot of sadness — and also some fear — about what’s ahead, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford.

“I don’t want to die,” Maynard said. “If anyone wants to hand me, like, a magical cure and save my life so that I can have children with my husband, you know, I will take them up on it.”

She’s 29 years old, recently married and was hoping to start a family.

Now Brittany Maynard is planning her death, choosing to end her life before cancer can destroy her.

“I think until anyone has walked a mile in my shoes and knows what they’re facing and has felt the — like, just bone-splitting headaches that I get sometimes, or the seizures, or the inability to speak, or the moments where I’m looking at my husband’s face and I can’t think of his name.”

Maynard found out this spring she has the most lethal form of brain cancer. Doctors told her she may only have six months to live.

Her medication has drastically changed her appearance, but she’s decided to forgo aggressive treatment and die, as she puts it, with dignity.

Initially, it wasn’t easy for her family to accept.

“I think it took my family a little while to realize that this is what made sense, because no one wants to hear that their daughter is going to die,” Maynard explained. “No mother should have to lose a child. It goes against the grain of nature.”

And to those who argue to hold on one more day, not to end her life before she has to, she said, “but my mother’s not selfish enough to say, ‘I want one more day where you’re suffering.'”

Maynard was raised by her mom, a single mother, in Southern California. She had an adventurous spirit and loved to travel. With degrees in psychology and education, she planned to be a teacher.

Now she’s cared for by her family, and her mother Deborah Ziegler, who’s driven by the honor of being a parent.

“Early on, I told her, ‘It would be my honor to take care of you, whichever way; if you need to be fed or diapered, it would be my honor,'” Ziegler said. “And that was important for me, for her to know.”

While her husband Dan planned to be by his wife’s side as long as he could, he recognized circumstances have changed.

“There’s absolutely that — the idea of wanting my wife to be at my side for ever,” he said. “That was the original plan, right? But the reality that, I guess, that feeds into the argument of quality of life versus just quantity.”

Maynard said she’s choosing quality.

After her diagnosis, she moved to Portland, Oregon, one of five states where it’s legal for doctors to help terminally ill patients take their own lives.

She decided to partner with the leading organization that’s pushing other states to change their laws, and she made a video showing the medicine Oregon doctors prescribed to end her life. She even talked about plans for a specific day: November 1, six days after her husband’s birthday.

“November 1 became kind of — a date for me to almost, like, make it to,” Maynard explained. “That’s a huge misconception, and I feel like people who are against this healthcare choice have tried to make it into a deadline. And I may be alive on November 2, or I may not. And that’s my choice.”

Her candor about death has revived the national debate over physician aid-in-dying.

In a recent poll, 67 percent of healthcare providers said they opposed the practice, as does the American Medical Association. Many fear it could be abused in cases involving the elderly and disabled.

“If I were her doctor I would certainly try to talk her out of it,” University of Chicago medical ethicist Dr. Daniel Sulmasy said. “I would try to tell her what the opportunities are for her to live to the fullest possible extent that she can even when she is dying.”

But Maynard said it should be her choice — how and when to die.

In her eyes, she’s not the one ending her life.

“No, cancer is ending my life,” she said. “I am choosing to end it a little sooner and in a lot less pain and suffering.”

Faced with the reality of her situation, she said the anger she felt has turned mostly to sadness.

“I’d say most of my sadness centers around how much I wanted a family,” Maynard said. “And it feels like for me, that was always, like, how you created a legacy was, like, through your children. And sort of inadvertently — through sharing my story, I’ve realized there’s a bit of the legacy I’m creating this way and I’m not ashamed of that. I’m not ashamed to attach my name to what I think is a right that should belong to all terminally ill Americans. I really do.”

Since the law in Oregon took effect 17 years ago, more than 1,000 people with terminal illnesses have requested life-ending drugs — just over half have taken them.

Maynard said she’s gotten comfort just knowing she can make that choice.

18 comments

  • ms duncan

    We all have a cross to bare.Jesus suffered far more.God has a plan.Maybe she needs the time instead of killing herself to find the Lord.Don’t do what Satan wants which is to think of the quality of life.Do what the Lord wants as he has a plan.JESUS takes the sting out of death.

    • Ronda Morris Mecum

      I strongly believe that our life energy doesnot die with our bodies..I would like to express to you how it saddens me that you havent been a mom yet. Let that be what you are when you leave this world. As for the religious fanatics…they should worry about themselves. If there is an “almighty” the greatest legacy he left for us was free will. “MAY THE ROAD RISE TO MEET YOU..AND THE WIND FOREVER BE AT YOUR BACK”

    • Ronda Morris Mecum

      WHY does a woman who seems to KNOW..use the word MAYBE? LIVE AND LET LIVE. DIE AND LET DIE. This woman has accepted her death..her family has as well..why haven’t you? If you had never heard her name or story..would you care? We are americans..we are told to seperate church from state..her story is not a religious one…it is a legal one. Ber spiritual story is hers and her family’s. And it should be honered and respected..and private. Unless we are invited into that privacy we should have manners enough to stay out of it…no disrespect to you..your values..or your religion intended.

    • Morgan

      What if she isn’t religious? What if she doesn’t believe in a god? What if she believes in a god who has no problem with someone choosing to not go through horrific pain, suffering and misery with no medical hope of a cure? If your god isn’t good with you choosing to end your life in the face of unspeakable suffering for you and your family then by all means, don’t choose to die. But don’t choose to pretend you know her faith or god, if she has one, or that your faith and god is more correct than her’s.

  • JW

    Brittany I wouldn’t do that……..You are second guessing the Lord
    you didn’t give your life and you can’t take it away read (Job:1-210)

  • Ronda Morris Mecum

    I strongly believe that our life energy doesnot die with our bodies..I would like to express to you how it saddens me that you havent been a mom yet. Let that be what you are when you leave this world. As for the religious fanatics…they should worry about themselves. If there is an “almighty” the greatest legacy he left for us was free will. “MAY THE ROAD RISE TO MEET YOU..AND THE WIND FOREVER BE AT YOUR BACK”

      • Ronda Morris Mecum

        Miss Duncan (aka miss maybe)…FREE WILL is in charge. LOVE is something we can do because we have the GIFT of FREEWILL. PERIOD.

      • ms duncan

        I used the word maybe as I don’t claim to speak what God thinks.Yes I care about souls that I’ve never met (Ebola victims-malaysia flight 370-people suffering at the hands of Isis etc.) When the story became public (not because of me) it no longer is private.Americans have had freedoms because our forefathers feared the wrath of God.If you’re not too young you will remember the days when people were trustworthy and had morals and a person’s word could be taken to the bank.apparently the woman is still on the fence about killing herself or she would already have committed suicide.YES your opinion and everyone else’s may be aired.Personally my first thought was she wants people to donate money for the cost of the move. Love is what the bible teaches and SEPERATING CHURCH AND STATE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.AMERICAN OR NOT.THIS NATION IS STILL UNDER GOD AND THE BIBLE CLEARLY TEACHES WHEN IT’S NOT AMERICA WILL BE IN BIG TROUBLE.OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AT WHAT’S HAPPENING.PERIOD AS YOU POLITELY STATED.NOTHING PERSONAL.

      • Ronda Morris Mecum

        You talk as if it is decided we all believe as you do. Who are you to define my god? Who am I to define yours? Respect and consideration for religeous belief is the reason my ancestors came here to begin again. To escape religeous dictatorship. The article is one of acceptance and hope. Struggle and victory. Love and inspiration. HER story…she never asked what your OPINION is. You have no manners…I am discussing with you no more. Have a good day.

      • ms duncan

        LEAVE GOD OUT OF IT THEN.THE WOMAN WAS TOLD BY DOCTORS SHE HAS LIFE EXPECTANCEY OF 10 YEARS.SHE STATES SHE DOESNT WANT TO DIE.SHE STATES SHE WANTS A BABY.LOOK AT VALERIE HARPER(RHODA).MS HARPER EXPECTED TO KICK THE BUCKET 16 MONTHS AGO.SHE’S STILL AROUND.WHO’S TO SAY THIS WOMAN CANT GET PREGNANT AND HAVE A BABY.WHO’S TO SAY WHAT CAN HAPPEN?CURES ARE FOUND EVERY DAY.WHO’S TO SAY THEY WON’T FIND A CURE THE DAY AFTER SHE KILLS HERSELF?WHO’S TO SAY THIS WOMAN ISNT DEEPLY DEPRESSED?WHO’S TO SAY IF THE WOMAN DID GET PREGNANT AND DIE A FEW YEARS LATER THAT HER CHILD WOULD BE THE ONE WHO GREW UP AND BECAME THE ONE WHO BECAME A DOCTOR AND FOUND A CURE? WHO’S TO SAY YOU AREN’T AN EVIL ENTITY?

  • Richard S. Drake

    My father died of brain cancer.
    If she wants to end her life with some dignity, instead of having it stolen from her by this horrible disease, those who disapprove should just go find someone else to look down their noses at.

  • Clarissa

    My grandmother has terminal brain cancer today and I’ve witnessed her deteriorating right in front of my eyes. She doesn’t even know her own husband most days and she can no longer walk and she needs assistance in everything she used to do by herself, like bathing and going to the bathroom. I would support her 100% if this is the way she chose, but alas she doesn’t have that option in Oklahoma. Its sad and painful to watch her suffer so much. And I know if she chose the way this women is God would welcome her with open arms.

  • Kevin

    Its not so much about choice but if more people do it then soon doctors will recommend this option and even push it on someone to save money on obamacare

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