29-year-old with terminal cancer explains decision to end her own life

ByRachel Schwartz WPVI logo
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Brittany Maynard with her dog, Charlie.
Brittany Maynard

Twenty-nine-year-old Brittany Maynard says she is going to die on November 1. She knows that for certain because it's the date she's chosen to end her life.

After going to the doctor with painful headaches earlier this year, Maynard was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Doctors predicted she had 10 years to live. But just three months later, her tumor had grown significantly, even after surgery. Maynard had glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer. At best, she would only survive another few months.

After reviewing her limited options, Maynard decided that choosing to end her life was the best option for her. She said it took time for her family to fully accept her decision.

"It took people a while to come around to agreeing with me," Maynard told ABC. "Those who love you are never going to jump on board right away."

So she and her husband left their home in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Oregon, one of the five states in the U.S. that have "death with dignity" laws.

"We all just realized that I am terminally ill and I'm dying and I would just prefer to die with less pain and less suffering," Maynard said.

Maynard will die at home, peacefully, with her husband and loved ones by her side. She will end her own life using medication prescribed to her by a doctor.

She chose Nov. 1 because her husband's birthday is in late October and she wants to celebrate with him one last time.

Make no mistake, Maynard says what she has chosen for herself is not suicide.

"There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die," she told People Magazine. "I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there's not."

Maynard is now dedicating her remaining time to advocating for increased end-of-life options nationwide. She wants all Americans who are terminally ill and mentally competent to be able to access death-with-dignity care without having to relocate as she did. Monday, Maynard launched the Brittany Maynard Fund in partnership with Compassion & Choices to expand death-with-dignity laws in other states.

VIDEO: Watch Maynard and her family discuss her choice

Maynard says she is introverted by nature and although the attention has been overwhelming, the issue was too important to ignore.

"I think the idea of education and advocacy for this cause is just something that when I was asked, I just couldn't turn my back on," she said.

The response to her video has been beyond what she expected.

"I woke up to a billion texts from my friends saying that had seen it or read it," Maynard said.

Last month, Maynard was hospitalized following seizures. Maynard is managing her pain with medication, but says her exhaustion levels are increasing. But, she says, her deteriorating condition only affirms the choice she is making.

Maynard is focusing on spending time with friends and family and continuing her love for travel. She's recently made trips to Alaska and Yellowstone National Park and hopes to make it to the Grand Canyon.

"I hope to enjoy however many days I have on this beautiful Earth and spend as much of it outside as I can surrounded by those I love," she said in the video.