A terminally ill woman who had decided to end her life after being told her illness would be long and painful has died, advocacy organization Compassion & Choices said Sunday.
Brittany Maynard, 29, who moved to Oregon where the “Death with Dignity Act” allows people to choose to die using medication, was diagnosed with a progressive brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme. The average life expectancy is 14 months.
Compassion & Choices said in a statement that Maynard took lethal drugs prescribed by a doctor on Saturday and was surrounded by her family.
"She died as she intended - peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones," the statement said.
The group said the Maynard family has asked for privacy. The family did not release a separate statement confirming the death.
Her story went viral after she posted a video on her website, The Brittany Maynard Fund, explaining her decision to end her life rather than try to fight the disease.
“If all my dreams came true, I would somehow survive this,” she said in a video. “But I likely won’t.”
Maynard chose Nov. 1 to die, but later said she would decided to postpone the day, saying she still shared enough joy and laughter with her family and friends that “it doesn’t seem like the right time right now, but it will come because I feel myself getting sicker; it’s happening each week.”
Maynard’s last days were spent completing a bucket list that included a trip to the Grand Canyon, and surrounding herself with her family.
The California native was diagnosed with a progressive brain tumor shortly after her wedding last year.
In a video, Maynard said the worst thing that could happen to her --- the most terrifying aspect – would be to wait too long and her autonomy be taken away by the disease.
In the video, Maynard said she takes walks with her family and husband, which “give her the greatest feelings of health I have these days” and that her condition continues to worsen every day.
About a week before she filmed the video, Maynard had her most terrifying set of seizures, two in a day, which is unusual.
“I remember looking at my husband’s face and thinking ‘I know this is my husband but I can’t say his name,’ and ended up going to the hospital for that one.”
Dan, her husband, said they were taking things one day at a time.
“You take away all the material stuff, all the nonsense we seem to latch on to as a society and you realize that those moments are really what matter,” he said.
Maynard hopes that after her death, her husband can be happy and have a family.
Maynard said she has gained 25 pounds in the past three months because of her prescription medications and that she finds it hard to look at herself in photos or the mirror because her body has become so unrecognizable.
Since Maynard’s story went viral, she has been working to raise awareness of end-of-life rights by working with Compassion & Choices, and The Brittany Maynard Fund. She has also been traveling and spending time with her family.
“Sadly, it is impossible to forget my cancer. Severe headaches and neck pain are never far away, and unfortunately the next morning I had my worst seizure thus far. My speech was paralyzed for quite a while after I regained consciousness, and the feeling of fatigue continued for the rest of the day,” Maynard said on her website.
“The seizure was a harsh reminder that my symptoms continue to worsen as the tumor runs its course. However, I find meaning and take pride that the Compassion & Choices movement is accelerating rapidly, thanks to supporters like you,” Maynard said.
Maynard had said she planned to die in her bedroom at home surrounded by her husband, mother, step-father and best friend.