You remember her fight to die on her own terms? Brittany Maynard's mission lives on for others.

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?

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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