Brittany Maynard will die on November 1 — a fact she knows with sheer certainty, as it's the day that she selected to willingly ingest a fatal drug that will allow her to pass away peacefully.
But rather than characterizing her impending act as a suicide, Maynard, 29, is claiming that this is simply the best path forward in coping with her terminal condition.
After experiencing headaches for months, Maynard was diagnosed January 1 with a brain tumor. While she was at first told that she had 10 years to live, the tumor's rapid growth led doctors to shorten that time frame to mere months, as WTVD-TV reported.
She described her experience in a CNN op-ed published Tuesday, noting that her options for coping with the cancer were limited.
"Because my tumor is so large, doctors prescribed full brain radiation. I read about the side effects: The hair on my scalp would have been singed off. My scalp would be left covered with first-degree burns. My quality of life, as I knew it, would be gone," she wrote. "After months of research, my family and I reached a heartbreaking conclusion: There is no treatment that would save my life, and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I had left."
Rather than suffer through until the end, Maynard made a decision to move with her husband to Oregon — a state where doctor assisted suicide is legal — and end her life on her own terms.
She chose November 1, as she's hoping to celebrate her husband's birthday one last time on October 30.
Maynard's decision is certainly a controversial one, leading to moral and ethical questions surrounding the decision to end one's life. But she insists that she wants nothing more than to live and that she isn't suicidal.
"I've had the [end-of-life] medication for weeks. I am not suicidal," Maynard wrote in her CNN op-ed. "If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms."
She went on in the piece to argue that it's important for people in her shoes to be given the option to control their own destinies.
"When my suffering becomes too great, I can say to all those I love, 'I love you; come be by my side, and come say goodbye as I pass into whatever's next,'" she said. "I will die upstairs in my bedroom with my husband, mother, stepfather and best friend by my side and pass peacefully. I can't imagine trying to rob anyone else of that choice."
For now, Maynard is carrying the pill with her in the event she needs it, spending her remaining days traveling and enjoying time outdoors. She also recently launched the Brittany Maynard Fund in an effort to help legalize death with dignity laws in other states, according to WTVD-TV.
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