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Terminally Ill Woman Brittany Maynard Has Ended Her Own Life

Brittany Maynard, who became the public face of the controversial right-to-die movement over the last few weeks, ended her own life Saturday at her home in Portland, Oregon. She was 29.

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more,” she wrote on Facebook. “The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

Doctors told Maynard she had six months to live last spring after she was diagnosed with a likely stage 4 glioblastoma. She made headlines around the world when she announced she intended to die – under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act – by taking a fatal dose of barbiturates, prescribed to her by a doctor, when her suffering became too great.

“My glioblastoma is going to kill me and that’s out of my control,” she told PEOPLE last month. “I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. So being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying.”

On Oct. 6, she launched an online video campaign with Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy organization, to fight for expanding death with dignity laws nationwide.

“For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me,” she told PEOPLE. “They try to mix it up with suicide and that’s really unfair, because there’s not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying.”

Terminally Ill Woman Brittany Maynard Has Ended Her Own Life| Cancer, Health, Medicine, Real People Stories

Brittany Maynard

Nigel Parry

A Heartbreaking Choice

Arriving at her decision was a gradual one, she said.

“It’s not a decision you make one day and you snap your fingers,” she told PEOPLE.

She said she began thinking about death with dignity in January – when she was first diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor – after coming across an article on it while researching possible treatments.

“Really, from the beginning, all the doctors said when you have a glioma you’re going to die,” she told PEOPLE. “You can just Google it. People don’t survive this disease. Not yet.”

Doctors removed as much of the tumor as they could, but it came back larger than ever two months later, she said.

After researching her options, she decided not to try chemotherapy or radiation.

“They didn’t seem to make sense for me,” she said, because of “the level of side effects I would suffer and it wouldn’t save my life. I’ve been told pretty much no matter what, I’m going to die – and treatments would extend my life but affect the quality pretty negatively.”

In June, she moved to Oregon with her husband, Dan Diaz, 43, her mother, Debbie Ziegler, 56 , and her stepfather, Gary Holmes, 72, so she could have access to the state’s Death with Dignity Act, which allows physicians to prescribe life-ending medication to certain terminally ill patients.

Maynard originally told PEOPLE she’d chosen Nov. 1 to end her life, but on Thursday she released a new video saying she might not do it that day.

“I still smile and laugh with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time now,” she said in the video recorded Oct. 13 and 14, “but it will come because I feel myself getting sicker; it’s happening each week.”

Terminally Ill Woman Brittany Maynard Has Ended Her Own Life| Cancer, Health, Medicine, Real People Stories

Brittany Maynard and Dan Diaz at Olympic National Park in Washington state in August

Courtesy Brittany Maynard

Her Final Months

Maynard spent the last months of her life making the most of the time she had left. She traveled to Alaska, British Colombia and Yellowstone National Park with her loved ones and explored more local attractions like Olympic National Park in Washington.

On Oct. 21, she and her family took a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon, a place she’d been longing to see before she died.

“It was breathtakingly beautiful,” she said in a statement.

The following morning, though, she had her “worst seizure” so far, she said: “The seizure was a harsh reminder that my symptoms continue to worsen as the tumor runs its course.”

Maynard said she was deeply touched by the “outpouring of support” she got after going public with her diagnosis and her decision.

“I want to thank people for that, for the words of kindness, for the time they’ve taken in personal ways,” she told PEOPLE.

“And then beyond that, to encourage people to make a difference,” she said. “If they can relate to my story, if they agree with this issue on a philosophical level, to get out there and do what we need to do to make a change in this country.”

Terminally Ill Woman Brittany Maynard Has Ended Her Own Life| Cancer, Health, Medicine, Real People Stories

Brittany Maynard and her mother, Debbie Ziegler, in Alaska in May

Courtesy Brittany Maynard

Maynard also talked to PEOPLE about her legacy.

“For me what matters most is the way I’m remembered by my family and my husband as a good woman who did my best to be a good wife and a good daughter,” she said.

“Beyond that, getting involved with this campaign, I hope to be making a difference here,” she said. “If I’m leaving a legacy, it’s to change this health-care policy or be a part of this change of this health care policy so it becomes available to all Americans. That would be an enormous contribution to make, even if I’m just a piece of it.”

Before she died, Maynard asked her husband and her mother if they would carry on the work she started to get death with dignity passed in every state.

“I want to work on the cause,” Ziegler told PEOPLE last month. “I have so much admiration for people who are terminally ill and just fight and fight. They are so dignified and brave. This is a different choice, but it is also brave and dignified.”

She also shared with them her hopes and dreams for their future. Upstairs in the home she shares with her family are neatly wrapped Christmas and birthday gifts for her loved ones for the next year.

“She made it clear she wants me to live a good life,” Ziegler says.

In her second video, Maynard, who is an only child, said she hoped her mother does not “break down” or “suffer from any kind of depression.”

And for Diaz, “I hope he moves on and becomes a father,” she said. “There’s no part of me that wants him to live out the rest of his life just missing his wife.”

Terminally Ill Woman Brittany Maynard Has Ended Her Own Life| Cancer, Health, Medicine, Real People Stories

Brittany Maynard (third from left) and her family at the Grand Canyon Oct. 21

Courtesy Brittany Maynard


Source: Terminally Ill Woman Brittany Maynard Has Ended Her Own Life

Thomas Menino, Boston’s Longest-Serving Mayor, Dies at 71

Thomas Menino, whose folksy manner and verbal gaffes belied his shrewd political tactics to govern as Boston’s longest-serving mayor and one of its most beloved, died Thursday. He was 71.

Spokeswoman Dot Joyce said in a statement that Menino died in the company of his family and friends. He was diagnosed with advanced cancer in February 2014, shortly after leaving office, and announced Oct. 23 he was suspending treatment and a book tour so he could spend more time with family and friends.

Menino was first elected in 1993 and built a formidable political machine that ended decades of Irish domination of city politics, at least temporarily. He won re-election four times. He was the city’s first Italian-American mayor and served in the office for more than 20 years before a series of health problems forced him, reluctantly, to eschew a bid for a sixth term.

“I can run, I can win and I can lead, but not in the neighborhoods all the time as I like,” Menino, a Democrat, told an overflow crowd at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall on March 28, 2013.

Less than three weeks after that announcement, two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260. Menino, who had undergone surgery on a broken leg just two days earlier, checked himself out of a hospital to help lead his shaken city through the crisis.

At an interfaith service three days after the bombings, Menino, in a symbolic act of personal defiance, painfully pulled himself to his feet from his wheelchair to declare that no act of violence could break Boston’s spirit.

He was in an SUV in nearby Watertown, Massachusetts, at the end of a daylong manhunt when Police Commissioner Edward Davis informed him that the surviving bombing suspect had been captured. Menino’s Tweet: “We got him.”

President Barack Obama hailed Menino as “bold, big-hearted, and Boston strong.” Reaction poured in from leaders around the country, including Secretary of State John Kerry, a longtime U.S. senator from Massachusetts, who said: “Tom Menino was Boston.”

Gov. Deval Patrick ordered flags lowered to half-staff at the Statehouse and all other state buildings in Boston until further notice.

Menino was anything but a smooth public speaker and was prone to verbal gaffes. He was widely quoted describing Boston’s notorious parking shortage as “an Alcatraz” around his neck, rather than an albatross.

He often mangled or mixed up the names of Boston sports heroes – once famously confusing former New England Patriots kicker and Super Bowl hero Adam Vinatieri with ex-Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. But while such mistakes might sink other politicians in a sports-crazed city, they only seemed to reinforce his affable personality and ability to connect with the residents he served.

“I’m Tom Menino. I’m not a fancy talker, but I get things done,” he said in his first TV ad.

In an interview with The Associated Press in March, Menino said he “loved every minute” of being mayor, even during the city’s darkest days. He credited his staff and others, downplaying his own role.

“I just did my job – nothing special,” he said.

Thomas Michael Menino was born on Dec. 27, 1942, in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood. A former insurance salesman, he caught the political bug while working as a legislative aide to state Sen. Joseph Timilty. He first earned elective office as a district city councilor in 1984.

Menino became the council’s president in 1993 and was automatically elevated to mayor when then-Mayor Raymond Flynn was named U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. While that prompted some to initially chide Menino as an “accidental mayor,” he quickly proved his own political mettle, winning a four-year term later that year.

He never sought nor showed interest in running for higher office. Mayor, it seemed, was the only political job to which he aspired.

His tireless public schedule amazed and exhausted many of his closest aides. In his new memoir, Mayor For A New America, he made clear that was his greatest legacy.

“I paid attention to the fundamentals of urban life – clean streets, public safety, good schools, neighborhood commerce,” Menino wrote in the memoir, released in October 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “Call my City Hall and you never got an answering machine. People trusted government because it heard them. Because they could talk to it. Because it kept its word.”

Menino’s health was often a concern, and he was admitted to the hospital several times while in office.

In 2003, he underwent surgery to remove a rare sarcoma on his back. The following year, his doctors confirmed he has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease.

He spent six weeks in the hospital in 2012 for a series of ailments, including a respiratory infection. While he was in the hospital, he suffered a compression fracture in his spine and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

In May 2013, he was back in the hospital for surgery for an enlarged prostate.

Menino left City Hall on his final day in office Jan. 6 to thunderous applause from city workers. Later, he Tweeted: “Thank you Boston. It has been the honor and thrill of a lifetime to be your Mayor. Be as good to each other as you have been to me.”

In March 2014, Menino revealed in an interview with The Boston Globe he was battling an advanced form of cancer that had spread to his liver and lymph nodes. Doctors said they were unable to pinpoint where the cancer originated.

In a statement announcing he was stopping treatment to devote himself to his loved ones, Menino said he was “hopeful and optimistic that one day the talented researchers, doctors and medical professionals in this city will find a cure for this awful disease.”

Menino leaves behind his wife Angela, his children Susan and Thomas Jr., a Boston police officer, and six grandchildren.

See how his fellow politicians and Boston-born celebrities (like the men of New Kids on the Block) are remembering the iconic mayor on Twitter:


Source: Thomas Menino, Boston’s Longest-Serving Mayor, Dies at 71

Brittany Maynard Realizes a Final Wish, Visits Grand Canyon

Terminally Ill Brittany Maynard Visits Grand Canyon, Realizes a Final Wish

Brittany Maynard (third from left) and her family at the Grand Canyon

Courtesy Brittany Maynard

10/24/2014 AT 03:30 PM EDT

After being told she had about six months to live in April, Brittany Maynard, who has terminal brain cancer, has been quietly checking off items on her bucket list.

She and her husband, Dan Diaz, travelled to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming; she kayaked up to the glaciers in Alaska with her best friend, then met her mother, Debbie Ziegler, in Juneau, where they took “a spectacular boat trip,” Maynard, 29, says in a video posted online on Oct. 6.

“Before I pass, I’m hoping to make it to the Grand Canyon ’cause I’ve never been,” she says in the video, which she used to launch her campaign with Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life advocacy organization, to get Death with Dignity laws passed nationwide.

“It’s her last hurrah,” Ziegler, 56, told PEOPLE in a recent interview.

Brittany Maynard Realizes a Final Wish, Visits Grand Canyon| Health, Real People Stories

Brittany Maynard (left) with mom Debbie Ziegler

Courtesy Brittany Maynard

Earlier this week, that dream became a reality, Maynard said in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE.

“This week my family and I travelled to the Grand Canyon, thanks to the kindness of Americans around the country who came forward to make my ‘bucket list’ dream come true,” she wrote.

“The Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful and I was able to enjoy my time with the two things I love most: my family and nature,” she wrote.

Brittany Maynard Realizes a Final Wish, Visits Grand Canyon| Health, Real People Stories

Brittany Maynard with husband Dan Diaz

Courtesy Brittany Maynard

“Sadly, it is impossible to forget my cancer,” she wrote. “Severe headaches and neck pain are never far away, and unfortunately the next morning I had my worst seizure thus far. My speech was paralyzed for quite a while after I regained consciousness and the feeling of fatigue continued for the rest of the day.

“The seizure was a harsh reminder that my symptoms continue to worsen as the tumor runs its course,” she said in the statement.

“However, I find meaning and take pride that the Compassion & Choices movement is accelerating rapidly, thanks to supporters like you,” she continued.

“I ask that you please continue to support C&C’s state-by-state efforts to make death with dignity laws available to all Americans,” she wrote. “My dream is that every terminally ill American have access to the choice to die on their own terms with dignity.

“Please take an active role to make this a reality,” she wrote. “The person you’re helping may be someone you love, or even in the future, yourself.”

Maynard and her husband, mother and stepfather, Gary Holmes, moved to Oregon in June so she could get access to the state’s Death with Dignity Act.

She said she plans to end her own life on Nov. 1 if her suffering becomes too great.


Source: Brittany Maynard Realizes a Final Wish, Visits Grand Canyon

Brittany Maynard to Dr. Ira Byock: Quit Talking About Me

Brittany Maynard, death with dignity, Ira Byock

Brittany Maynard with her Great Dane, Charley

Courtesy Dan Diaz

10/23/2014 AT 07:05 PM EDT

Brittany Maynard is firing back at Dr. Ira Byock, a top palliative care physician and vocal opponent of right-to-die laws, for making public comments about her that she says are untrue.

“As a terminally ill patient, I find it disrespectful and disturbing when people discuss my personal health with details that are not accurate to push an agenda,” she wrote in a comment on the website for the Diane Rehm radio show, where Byock was scheduled to speak Thursday.

“I am Brittany Maynard and it concerns me that Dr. Ira Byock will speak on my ‘behalf’ at all again,” she wrote. “I watched a special on PBS where this same individual spoke about my case as though he knew personal details about me, saying some things that were quite frankly not true.”

On Oct. 6, Maynard launched a national online video campaign with Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life advocacy group, to fight for expanding Death with Dignity laws nationwide.

And in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, she said she planned to end her life on Nov. 1, due to her rapidly deteriorating health.

In the wake of all the publicity about her decision, Byock, chief medical officer of the Providence Institute for Human Caring in Torrance, California, has been making the rounds of various national television and radio shows.

“My heart goes out to Brittany Maynard,” Byock said on the PBS Newshour on Oct. 14. “But I want to assure people watching that she could get excellent whole-person care and be assured of dying gently in her bed surrounded by her family.” Not so, says Maynard.

“He said that a gentle death would be available to me easily through hospice,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, that would be after a great length of time, with lots of suffering (physical and emotional), and loss for my young body.”

And then there was this.

“Unfortunately, while not being coerced, she is being exploited by Compassion & Choices,” he said. “And I think that’s a tragedy. I worry what will happen if her life still feels worth living on Nov. 1. Will she then feel compelled to end her life in order to meet the public’s expectations?”

Maynard furiously denied she feels compelled to die now “based on public expectations.”

“I DO NOT,” she wrote. “This MY choice. I am not that weak. The day is my choice. I have the right to change my mind at any time. It is my right. I am very confident about this.”

Nor is she being exploited by Compassion & Choices, she says.

“I had gone through the entire process of moving, physician approval for DWD, and filled my prescription before I EVER even spoke to anyone at Compassion & Choices about volunteering and decided to share my story.”

Furthermore, “I am not depressed or suicidal or on a ‘slippery slope,’ ” she wrote. “I have been in charge of this choice, gaining control of a terrifying terminal disease through the application of my own humane logic.”

Byock did not respond to a request for comment but did address Maynard’s comments when asked about them by Diane Rehm.

“It’s personally hard for me to hear that I’ve caused this young woman more distress,” he said. But “I do in fact disagree with a number of the things she said.”

“One of the things I disagree with is that Brittany Maynard has just said again that she thinks it’s her personal choice,” he said. “But physician-assisted suicide is not a personal act. It’s a social act.”


Source: Brittany Maynard to Dr. Ira Byock: Quit Talking About Me