PORTLAND, OREGON — Brittany Maynard, a woman suffering from a rare form of brain cancer and whose public appeal for a patient's right to end their life with dignity made news across the United States, died in Oregon this weekend, a spokesman said on late Sunday. She was 29.
"We're sad to announce the passing of a dear and wonderful woman, Brittany Maynard. She passed peacefully in her bed surrounded by close family and loved ones," advocacy group Compassion & Choices said in a brief statement. Spokesman Sean Crowley said she died Saturday "as she intended," in the arms of her loved ones.
An obituary posted on Maynard's website said "she left this world with zero regrets" on time spent, places been, or people she loved. "It is people who pause to appreciate life and give thanks who are happiest. If we change our thoughts, we change our world! Love and peace to you all," she was quoted as saying.
Maynard, who had suffered from debilitating headaches for more than a year, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer on New Year's Day and was later told she had only six months left to live. Faced with few options in California, she and her husband moved to Oregon, which is one of only five U.S. states that allow physician-assisted suicide.
Under physician-assisted suicide laws, a terminally-ill patient may request a prescription for medication that ends their life peacefully and painlessly.
"I can't even tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don't have to die the way its been described to me, that my brain tumor would take me on its own," Maynard said in an October 6 online video that was viewed by more than 9 million people and made news across the United States. She said she planned to die by Sunday, November 2.
In a second video posted on Wednesday, however, Maynard indicated that she was considering to wait longer, saying that she still felt good enough. "But, it will come, because I can feel myself getting sicker. It's happening each week," she explained. "The worst thing that could happen to me is that I wait too long, because I'm trying to siege each day, but that I somehow have my autonomy taken away from me by my disease."
Physician-assisted suicide is different from euthanasia as the latter allows a doctor to end a patient's life. Assisted suicide is currently legal in Switzerland, Germany, Albania, Colombia, Japan and the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico and Montana. Euthanasia is only legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.