(Compassion & Choices)

Brittany Maynard, advocate for assisted suicide, ends her own life

The 29-year-old suffered from stage IV brain cancer

Joanna Rothkopf
November 3, 2014 7:43PM (UTC)

Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old advocate for death with dignity, chose to end her life on Sunday evening after suffering from stage IV brain cancer since January.

Maynard chose to move to Portland, Oregon, with her husband in order to take advantage of the state's "Death With Dignity Act," which allowed her to obtain medication designed to peacefully end her life.


"Brittany chose to make a well thought out and informed choice to Die With Dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful, and incurable illness," reads her obituary on her website. "She moved to Oregon to pass away in a little yellow house she picked out in the beautiful city of Portland."

The obituary paints a picture of a life filled with enthusiasm and compassion:

After being told by one doctor that "she probably didn't even have weeks to be on her feet," she was found climbing 10 mile trails along the ice fields of Alaska with her best friend in the sunshine months later. "Speak your own truth, even when your voice shakes." she would say.

Brittany graduated from UC Berkeley as an undergrad, and received a Masters in Education from UC Irvine. She believed in compassion, equity, and that people would remember most how you made them feel in life. As Faulkner said, "Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If more people all over the world would do this, the world would change."

She was an accomplished and adventuresome traveler who spent many months living solo and teaching in orphanages in Kathmandu, Nepal. That single experience forever changed her life and perspective on childhood, happiness, privilege and outcomes. She fell in love with her time in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Thailand. She spent a summer working in Costa Rica, and traveled to Tanzania, and summited Kilimanjaro with a girlfriend a month before her wedding. She took ice climbing courses on Cayambe and Cotopaxi in Ecuador and was an avid scuba diver, who relished her time in the Galapagos, Zanzibar, Caymans and pretty much any island she ever visited.

After learning she had months to live, Maynard became an outspoken advocate for increased access to aid-in-dying across the country, reinvigorating the debate surrounding the issue. "The freedom is in the choice," she said. "If the option of DWD [Death with Dignity] is unappealing to anyone for any reason, they can simply choose not to avail themselves of it. Those very real protections are already in place."


"It is people who pause to appreciate life and give thanks who are happiest," Maynard wrote in a final message to her supporters and friends. "If we change our thoughts, we change our world! Love and peace to you all."

Joanna Rothkopf

MORE FROM Joanna RothkopfFOLLOW @joannarothkopf

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Aid-in-dying Brittany Maynard Death With Dignity Oregon

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