Dying with dignity is a universal human right and choice. At age 29, Brittany Maynard chose to exercise that right and have a good peaceful death.
Brittany Maynard is 29 years old and she is dying from an inoperable aggressive brain cancer. Two surgeries (partial craniotomy and a partial resection of the temporal lobe) failed to stop or even slow down the growth of the tumor, and after it came back more aggressive, she was given 6 months to live.
After months of research, Brittany and her family reached a heartbreaking conclusion: There is no treatment that would save her life, and the recommended treatments would have destroyed what little time she had left. She explained in a post:
“I considered passing away in hospice care at my San Francisco Bay-area home. But even with palliative medication, I could develop potentially morphine-resistant pain and suffer personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of virtually any kind. Because the rest of my body is young and healthy, I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind. I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that.
After researching end-of-life options for mentally competent, terminally ill patients with a prognosis of six months or less to live, she opted for death with dignity as the best option for herself and her family.
This required her to move to Oregon (one of only five states that offer this option) with her family, establish residency, find new doctors, settle in a home and have her loved ones relocate temporarily, all expanding resources not many people can afford. She now has the prescriptions for the drugs to end her life, which she chose to do on November 1, 2014, allowing her a death with dignity, which I believe is the right of every human being. She stated in her post:
“When the time comes and my suffering become too great, I can say to all those I love, I love you; come be by my side, and come say goodbye as I pass into whatever’s next, I will die upstairs in my bedroom with my husband, mother, stepfather and best friend by my side and pass peacefully. I can’t imagine trying to rob anyone else of that choice.”
In an interview she gave to People.com Brittany explained how her choice to die with dignity has nothing to do with suicide:
“There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die. I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not…My glioblastoma is going to kill me, and that’s out of my control. I’ve discussed with many experts how I could die from it, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying.”
Human beings have the right to chose to end the suffering of their beloved pets legally. Most Americans agree that a dignified painless death option should be available to people as well. Is there any reason why death with dignity should not be a choice available to all of us for ourselves, regardless of which U.S. state or which country around the world we live in?