Brittany Maynard took a medicine that ended her life. She shouldn't have had to make such an awful choice, but she was grateful to have a choice at all. Do you remember her? She was the bright-eyed, pragmatic young woman who moved with her husband to Oregon so she could die on her own terms instead of on cancer's terms. It was big-time national news.


Image used with permission from Dan Diaz.

Her family is still hard at work trying to make sure other people can have the dignity of their own choices, too. Here's her mom with a sweet story about banana pancakes and a more difficult story of how they went about getting the end-of-life medication Brittany needed.

Brittany's widower, Dan Diaz, has been an ardent spokesman for Death With Dignity laws. Here's something he shared with Upworthy that he'd like anyone opposed to Death With Dignity to consider:

"Brittany and I listened to the narrative that the opposition presents, but unfortunately their message is out of touch with the reality of what a person in Brittany's situation is facing. The opposition's message is based on fear, uncertainty, and doubt, concerning who should be in control of one's own dying process. And when they finish delivering their message they have not offered a solution or an alternative to a person like Brittany who is facing a torturous death. It seems their position is: 'We don't approve of what Brittany did, but we don't have an alternative to offer, so anyone in her predicament will just have to die in agony.'

Brittany refused to accept that position and simply took control of her own health care decisions. She voiced her disapproval of the current system in California, and because of her voice we are now seeing change occur. (It is with great pride in my wife that I continue what she began.)

I am not trying to force my position on anyone else, neither was Brittany. The strength of this law is that it is an option that the individual would need to pursue for him/herself. So I am merely trying to convey the reality of what Brittany faced and how it is essential that the individual should be the decision maker regarding their own circumstances. That's all Brittany wanted to establish."



If you think Brittany's story is just an outlier — one extreme fringe case in a world where most people don't want to have this choice — I have to show you something.

This is Cody Curtis and her husband.

She died using the Death With Dignity law when her terminal liver cancer made her suffering unbearable.

Image from "How to Die In Oregon," used with permission.

And this is Peter Scott.

Image from "How to Die In Oregon," used with permission.

And it doesn't stop with them.

In 2011, there were over a million terminally diagnosed patients using hospice services (end-of-life care). 65% of people polled expressed interest in laws to uphold their end-of-life decisions so that they can plan and stay in control of how their loved ones remember their time here.

And one of the most staggering statistics comes from a Compassion and Choices report on a recent Harris Poll:

"Three out of four Americans (74%) polled after Brittany Maynard utilized Oregon's Death With Dignity Act agreed that: 'Individuals who are terminally ill, in great pain and who have no chance for recovery, have the right to choose to end their own life.'"


Dan Diaz and Brittany Maynard. Image used with permission from Dan Diaz.

Self-reflection time:

Do you know anyone who's terminally ill, or have you lost someone who struggled through a vicious disease that they had no chance of surviving? Could you imagine a moment during their intense suffering where you could understand and support their decision to end their pain?

For me, it was my brother Alan and my grandma Dixie, who both died painful deaths from cancer. They are the reason why I care so much for this cause and wanted to share this story with our audience. Who are you going to share this piece in honor of?

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