Brittany Maynard, a terminally ill 29-year-old from California who moved to Oregon to access death with dignity, became a poignant icon for end-of-life autonomy this week. She launched a brave campaign with Compassion & Choices to increase the availability of that option for others, and the world has responded with admiration, sympathy and solidarity.
Brittany reached out to Compassion & Choices to help share her story in an effort to change laws so that everyone who wishes can access aid in dying. The response has been enormous. Major media such as People Magazine, Time, CNN, CBS News and dozens more have reported on Brittany’s brave choice, gaining the support of millions around the globe.
Diagnosed with incurable brain cancer on New Year’s Day, Brittany took charge of her healthcare. She explored death with dignity, an option authorized in five states – but not in California. Given family support and financial resources, and because she was proactive, Brittany was able to move to Oregon. She wanted to control her dying process if it became unbearable.
She moved to Portland with her mother and husband, Dan. But she left behind her medical team, friends, pets, support system and home. She had to re-establish her life, including getting new physicians.
“Brittany has a vision, and that vision is that everyone across America can enjoy the same peace of mind, the same comfort, that she is enjoying now as she lives out her last days knowing that the terrible symptoms that her disease would visit on her are not mandatory,” Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee said on MSNBC’s News Nation With Tamron Hall this morning. “She has partnered with Compassion & Choices in order to make that vision a reality after she’s gone, and we will do our darndest to make that happen.”