The following is the official obituary from the family of Brittany Maynard, a California woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and moved to Oregon to use the state’s “Death With Dignity Act.” Compassion & Choices, a life-rights advocacy group Maynard worked with, said Sunday she had died.
Brittany Lauren Maynard was born in 1984 and forged a brief but solid 29 years of generosity, compassion, education, travel and humor. She happily met her husband, Daniel Diaz, in April of 2007, and they married, as best friends, five years later in September of 2012.
This past year, on New Year’s Day, Brittany was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was given a terminal diagnosis for which there was no cure or life-saving measures available. In the face of such illness and pain, Brittany chose to live each day fully, traveled, and kept as physically active and busy as she possibly could.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
– Theodore Roosevelt. A formula to live by, sick or well.
After being told by one doctor that “she probably didn’t even have weeks to be on her feet,” she was found climbing 10-mile trails along the ice fields of Alaska with her best friend in the sunshine months later.
“Speak your own truth, even when your voice shakes.” she would say.
Brittany graduated from UC Berkeley as an undergrad, and received a Master’s in Education from UC Irvine. She believed in compassion, equity and that people would remember most how you made them feel in life.
As Faulkner said, “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If more people all over the world would do this, the world would change.”
She was an accomplished and adventuresome traveler who spent many months living solo and teaching in orphanages in Kathmandu, Nepal. That single experience forever changed her life and perspective on childhood, happiness, privilege and outcomes.
She fell in love with her time in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Thailand. She spent a summer working in Costa Rica, and traveled to Tanzania, and summited Kilimanjaro with a girlfriend a month before her wedding. She took ice-climbing courses on Cayambe and Cotopaxi in Ecuador, and was an avid scuba diver who relished her time in the Galapagos, Zanzibar, Caymans and pretty much any island she ever visited.
She loved her two dogs like family, a small Beagle and large Great Dane, and was always the one to take in lost dogs and find them homes. Brittany was a regular volunteer at a local animal rescue organization before her diagnosis.
Brittany chose to make a well-thought-out and informed choice to die with dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful and incurable illness. She moved to Oregon to pass away in a little yellow house she picked out in the beautiful city of Portland. Oregon is a place that strives to protect patient rights and autonomy; she wished that her home state of California had also been able to provide terminally ill patients with the same choice.
Brittany chose to speak out and advocate for this patient right and option, which she felt is an informed choice that should be made available to all terminally ill patients across our great nation.
“The freedom is in the choice,” she believed. “If the option of death with dignity is unappealing to anyone for any reason, they can simply choose not to avail themselves of it. Those very real protections are already in place.”
With great consideration, she gave personal interviews to the UK’s Tonight Show prior to death with dignity being addressed by their Parliament, as well as participated in a U.S.-based campaign for death-with-dignity education and legislation.
She is survived by her faithful, practical and kind husband, Daniel Diaz, her loving, selfless mother, Deborah Ziegler, and honorable stepfather, Gary Holmes. And by Dan’s loving, supportive family: parents, Carmen and Barry, and brothers, David, Adrian and Alex, all of whom she adored and loved very deeply. While she had longed for children of her own, she left this world with zero regrets on time spent, places been, or people she loved in her 29 years.
In this final message, she wanted to express a note of deep thanks to all her beautiful, smart, wonderful, supportive friends whom she “sought out like water” during her life and illness for insight, support and the shared experience of a beautiful life.
“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.”
– Brittany Maynard