This is Brittany Maynard.

Image courtesy of The Brittany Maynard Fund
Image courtesy of The Brittany Maynard Fund

Brittany died on Saturday November 1st, 2014.

She chose to die.

Brittany had inoperable cancer – glioblastoma brain cancer. This cancer is always deadly. She was given 6 months to live in April. She chose to move to Oregon – my home state – to die. Why? Because Oregon is one of 3 states that has the Death With Dignity Act. Other states are Washington and Vermont. New Mexico and Montana also have bills in place to make it legal.

When I heard about Brittany I started following her story. It touched me, not only because her life was happening – and ending – in my town of Portland. She also touched me because I just watched someone die from a terminal illness.

For anyone who has ever watched someone die in such a horrible way as cancer, you know that it stays with you. Seeing my father in law deteriorate so quickly was heartbreaking. Knowing that there is not a damn thing anyone could do about it was impossible to accept. I still have visions of him in his last days – not being able to stand up on his own, trying to put sentences together, his skin hanging on him like an old coat. I couldn’t imagine what he was going through, how he felt, what he thought. I don’t ever want to.

Brittany Maynard is an even more tragic story. At only 29 years old she knew she was leaving this Earth. She knew it was going to be painful not only for herself but for her family to watch. She chose to ease that pain. After experiencing a loss myself, I can see why she did, and why, if I was in that position, I might do the same.

It’s a shame that we can end the suffering of our pets but not of our terminally ill family. People often say it’s so inhumane to let a sick dog continue. Why don’t we say that for our loved ones?

Rest in peace Brittany.

For more on Brittany Maynard and the Death With Dignity Act see