PORTLAND — A 29-year-old woman has scheduled her own day to die after being told that she has an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer that would take her life in less than a year—a decision that some state puts her in the position of essentially “playing God.”
Brittany Maynard of California began experiencing headaches last year shortly after marrying fiance Dan Diaz. On New Year’s Day this year, she was diagnosed with Astrocytoma and underwent brain surgery days later to help stop the cancerous tumor from growing. She was given ten years to live.
In April, Maynard learned that the cancer had progressed to Glioblastoma multiforme, and was more aggressive than ever. She was advised that she instead had six months to live, and was informed about various treatment possibilities.
Maynard explained in a recent op-ed for CNN said that she rejected these ideas because they would impact her “quality of life,” and also decided not to pursue hospice care because she did not want her family to watch her suffer.
“Because the rest of my body is young and healthy, I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind,” she wrote. “I probably would have suffered in hospice care for weeks or even months. And my family would have had to watch that.”
Maynard outlined that she then began researching euthanasia, or as she called it, “death with dignity,” and concluded that it was her “best option.” However, because euthanasia is illegal in California, she and her husband moved to Oregon, which passed a law allowing the practice in 1997. Approximately 750 people have died under the legislation since its enactment.
The 29-year-old then obtained a prescription for a pill that would hasten her death.
“Now that I’ve had the prescription filled and it’s in my possession, I have experienced a tremendous sense of relief,” she wrote in her op-ed. “And if I decide to change my mind about taking the medication, I will not take it.”
Maynard denies that she is suicidal or that she wishes to die.
“I’ve had the medication for weeks. I am not suicidal. If I were, I would have consumed that medication long ago,” she said. “I do not want to die. But I am dying. And I want to die on my own terms.”
As her husband’s birthday is on October 30th, Maynard decided that she will take the pill on November 1st—the date that she has chosen to die.
“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.”
Maynard has also decided to establish a fund that will go toward efforts to legalize euthanasia in other states.
However, some disagree with Maynard’s decision and efforts, opining that no one should take death into their own hands.
“By making the decision to end her own life on November 1st, Maynard is assuming she has nothing more to offer this world or her loved ones beyond that point,” wrote Christian commentator Steve Deace on Wednesday. “That is to say in essence she is playing God and making decisions as if she alone knows the future.”
“And why choose November 1st when she was given six months to live back in April? By making it to November at all Maynard has already defied her original diagnosis if you do the math,” he added.
Deace, who noted that death came upon all mankind due to Adam’s fall, said that he did not seek to criticize Maynard, but “to provoke her to move beyond her fear of suffering, and see the world as it really is and her life as it was really intended to be.”
“[Jesus] knows what you’re going through, Brittany, and has already suffered what you fear happening to you—but even worse. For His willingness to lay down his life for you (us), He has been given all power under heaven and earth,” he wrote. “That means He has you alive right now for a reason. He has a purpose for you to inspire and love others, and He wants them to inspire and love on you as well. And He wants you to know that perfect love casts out all fear.”