Brittany Maynard has picked the date she wants to die.
The terminally ill 29-year-old says she plans to die no later than Nov. 1. That is the day she plans to end her own life, one day after her husband's birthday, if her brain cancer does not kill her first.
Maynard explains in a six-minute YouTube video campaign why she is fighting to make "death with dignity" an option for everyone and has even moved from the Bay Area to Oregon, one of only five states where it is legal.
She found out in January during a trip to Wine Country that she had brain cancer. Doctors gave her six months to live.
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“The thoughts that go through your mind when you find out you have so little time is everything you need to say to everyone you love,” she says in the video, which shows her in the arms of her husband on their wedding day, surrounded by friends and family.
Brittany said she first started experiencing severe headaches after getting married. “I didn’t understand them, because I had never had anything like them before in my life," she said.
Maynard and her husband had been actively trying for a family at the time — "which is heartbreaking for both of us," she said.
Maynard is currently on several strong prescription drugs to treat her glioblastoma brain tumor, and despite the frustrating side effects, including weight gain and swelling of the face, agreed to go on camera for the video.
After researching numerous options — her mother prayed for a miracle, and Maynard even considered hospice care — Maynard and her family decided to use "aid in dying."
Maynard has received a prescription for medication that will end her life "peacefully and painlessly" under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, if she chooses to use it, her video explains. Oregon's law lets terminally ill Oregonians end their lives by self-administering lethal medications specifically prescribed for that purpose.
“I don’t wake up every day and look at it. It’s in a safe spot, and I know it’s there if I need it,” she says in the video, laughing. “I will die upstairs in my bedroom that I share with my husband, with my mother and my husband by my side.”
Maynard’s husband Dan said that the option provides a lot of relief and comfort "if and when his wife decides it’s time.”
Maynard says she will use the few weeks she has left to live to advocate for access to death with dignity in California and across the U.S. in partnership with Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy organization.
“I can’t even tell you the amount of relief it provides me to know that I don’t have to die the way it’s been described to me, that my brain tumor will take me on its own,” she says in the video.
Oregon in 1997 became the first state to make it legal for a doctor to prescribe a life-ending drug to a terminally ill patient of sound mind who makes the request. The patient must swallow the drug without help; it is illegal for a doctor to administer it.
More than 750 people in Oregon used the law to die as of Dec. 31, 2013. The median age of the deceased is 71. Only six were younger than 34, like Maynard.
The state does not track how many terminally ill people move to Oregon to die. One of the "frequently asked questions" on the state Public Health Division website is: "How long does someone have to be a resident of Oregon to participate in the act?"
There is no minimum residency requirement, but a patient must prove to a doctor they are living in the state. Some examples of documentation include a rental agreement, an Oregon voter registration card or a state driver's license.
For more information on death-with-dignity and Brittany Maynard's campaign, click here.