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Die with dignity: Should Maynard’s option be available to all Americans?

by BRIANNA SICILIANO Social Media Coordinator

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old newlywed from California, is planning to die with dignity in early November, and her upcoming death has spurred conversations and controversy.

In January 2014, after suffering from major headaches for months, Maynard was diagnosed with brain cancer. Her doctor told her she had three to five years to live, but after taking another CAT scan, her life expectancy dropped to six months.

“At the age of 29, people dream of traveling the world, following a path to their dream job, and starting families. Death is not something 29-year-olds should worry about,” said senior Richa Patel.

Maynard was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most aggressive form of brain cancer. With this stage of illness, cancer cells grow and spread to other parts of the brain rapidly. Studies have shown that few patients survive glioblastoma multiforme beyond three years, no matter what treatment they receive.

Because she refuses to die a victim to cancer and let her grade four cancer beat her in the end, Maynard and her family moved from California to Oregon so she could choose death with dignity.

Death with dignity is a medical practice that allows terminally and mentally ill adults to end their lives with a doctor-prescribed, self-administered medication.

For Maynard, death with dignity means that when her suffering becomes too painful to handle, she can call everyone she loves to her side, tell them she loves them, and say goodbye.

“Death with dignity is understandable in cases like Brittany Maynard’s; after all, who wants to die of brain cancer?” said an anonymous senior.

The medication will allow a person to fall asleep and peacefully pass on. Maynard met the criteria for this medication and received a prescription that will end her life painlessly and peacefully, if and when she chooses to take it.

“I don’t wake up everyday and look at [the medicine.] It’s in a safe spot and I know that it’s there when I need it. I plan to be surrounded by my immediate family, which is my husband, my mother, my stepfather, my best friend, …and probably not much more people. I will die upstairs, in my bedroom that I share with my husband, with my mother and my husband by my side, and pass peacefully with some music I like in the background. I don’t have to die the way that it’s been described to me. [I do not have to die in the way that] my brain tumor will take me on its own,” said Maynard.

Death with dignity allows people who are in the difficult position of facing a lot of suffering to decide when enough is enough. Instead of dying in pain, and emotionally draining loved ones, patients who die with dignity can say their goodbyes and leave their bodies without an ounce of pain or suffering.

Currently, Maynard is taking prescription drugs to reduce the swelling in her brain. The medication she is on has caused her entire body to swell up, instead of her brain.

Maynard and her husband, Dan, have given up their dreams of having children, and Maynard’s mother is forced to face the reality of losing and burying her only child.

“I hope to enjoy however many days I have left on this beautiful earth…I hope to pass in peace. The reason to consider life and what’s of value is to make sure you’re not missing out….pursue that, forget the rest,” said Maynard.

Maynard is planning on ending her life on November 1, just days from now.

“I really wanted to celebrate my husband’s birthday, which is October 26. I’m getting sicker, dealing with more pain and seizures and difficulties, so I just selected it. I’m dying, but I am choosing to suffer less, to put myself through less physical and emotional pain, and my family as well,” Maynard said.

Presently, only five states in the US allow terminally ill patients the right to die with dignity: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico. There are campaigns in New Jersey, California, Colorado, Connecticut, and Massachusetts to authorize aid in dying as well.

Do you think that more states should authorize death with dignity? Or do you think that by authorizing this, more people will lose the hope of surviving? Do you think that authorizing death with dignity in more states will raise the counts of self-administered death by a huge amount? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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