Brittany Maynard is planning to die on Nov. 1, and she's fighting to expand end-of-life choices for others in similar situations.
Maynard had just turned 29 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer in January. She had recently married husband Dan Diaz, and the couple were trying for a family.
But 70 days after her initial diagnosis, Maynard was given even more devastating news: Her tumor had grown into an aggressive form of cancer known as glioblastoma multiforme. She was given six months to live.
"In the beginning I hoped for everything," says Maynard's mother, Debbie Ziegler, in the video above. “First I hoped that they had just the wrong X-rays, the wrong set of scans; it was all just a big clerical mishap. Your brain will do really strange things to you when you don’t want to believe something. You will come up with fairytales.”
After months of research, Maynard found care options in her home state of California were limited and that treatment would destroy the time she had left.
"I considered passing away in hospice care at my San Francisco Bay-area home," Maynard wrote in a piece for CNN. "But even with palliative medication, I could develop potentially morphine-resistant pain and suffer personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of virtually any kind."
She and her family decided to relocate to Portland, Oregon, where Maynard could take advantage of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. The act allows mentally competent, terminally ill adults with less than six months to live to end their lives with self-administered medication prescribed by a doctor.
"I've had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago. I do not want to die," Maynard wrote in the CNN piece. "But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms."
Death With Dignity acts have only been enacted in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico. But Maynard aims to change this in her final weeks.
On Oct. 6, she launched a campaign called The Brittany Maynard Fund in partnership with Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization working to expand end-of-life options. The campaign works to raise awareness about the widespread need for death with dignity nationwide. Funds raised will go to supporting this effort.
“Brittany’s courage to tell her story as she is dying, and alert all Americans to the choice of death with dignity, is selfless and heroic,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee in a press release provided to The Huffington Post. “Most people do not have the flexibility, resources and time to uproot their family, establish residency in a death-with-dignity jurisdiction and gain the option to die on their own terms.”
In the video above, Maynard expresses the incredible amount of relief she feels knowing she doesn't have to suffer. Instead, she has the option to pass away in a bed, surrounded by close friends and family, listening to music she loves.
“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. I hope to pass in peace,” Maynard concludes in the video.