SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman battling stage 4 brain cancer from San Francisco, plans to die two days after her husband’s birthday on Nov. 1 by assisted suicide. As part of her legacy, she’s launched a nationwide campaign she’s calling for death with dignity laws.
On Monday, Maynard released a YouTube video on her decision to move from her home state of California in order to access death with dignity laws in Oregon. The nonprofit Compassion & Choices is helping her go public with her choice through a campaign to expand assisted suicide laws around the nation.
“I can’t even tell you the amount of relief it provides me to know that I don’t have to die the way it’s been described to me, that my brain tumor will take me on its own,” Maynard said in the six-minute video, which also includes interviews with her mother, Debbie Ziegler, and her husband, Dan Diaz.
The newlywed, who was living in San Francisco at the time, learned she had terminal brain cancer last January after months of suffering from debilitating headaches. In April, UC San Francisco told her she had six months to live.
“My husband and I were actively trying for a family, which is heartbreaking for us,” she says in the video.
Maynard has glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer.
With few options in California, Maynard and her family moved to Portland where she met the criteria for Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. Since the law went into effect in 1997, 1,173 people have had prescriptions written under the act, and 752 have used them to die.
CBS This Morning Interviews Brittany Maynard:
Maynard says she’s received a prescription for medication that will end her life painlessly if she chooses to ingest it.
“I plan to be surrounded by my immediate family,” Maynard says in the video. “And I’ll die upstairs in my bedroom that I share with my husband and pass peacefully with some music I like in the background.”
Currently, only four other states — Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico — have laws to help terminally ill patients die.
“Between suffering and being alive to decide enough is enough, which to me provides a lot of relief and comfort that OK that option is there,” says Diaz, Maynard’s husband.
Maynard’s mom describes her daughter as a wanderlust who loves to travel. Since her diagnosis, she and her husband took a trip to Yellowstone. She’s also been to Alaska with her best friend and hopes to make it to the Grand Canyon, if her increasing pain and recurring seizures affords her the opportunity.