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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

The Voice Battle Rounds: Alicia Keys a Puts Soul Spin on ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’

10/14/2014 AT 07:35 AM EDT

At first, Texas singer Luke Wade and his duet partner, known simply as Griffin, from Nashville, were having an awkward time rehearsing the Paul McCartney and Wings hit “Maybe I’m Amazed.”

But then their coach Pharrell Williams, with guidance from his team mentor Alicia Keys, lit an Aretha-inspired soul fire under the rock song, leading to an epic, competitive moment on The Voice as the Season 7 battle rounds kicked off Monday.

With each singer taking a verse, Wade went raw and bluesy, and then Griffin, a Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra fan, smoothed it on out. Their harmonies took on a spirit-filled revival tone that had Williams shaking his head at their power – and his tough choice.

Adam Levine and Blake Shelton were also blown away by the talent in both singers.

“I think Luke is the best singer in the competition. You have everything,” Levine praised, calling out Wade’s rasp and range. Noted Shelton: “Definitely one of the greatest battles we’ve ever had on this show.”

In the end, Williams kept Wade on his team, but not before noting that the runner-up would definitely be stolen. Quickly, Gwen Stefani hit her red button, followed soon by Shelton, as Griffin got a new life on the show.

Blake’s bid to steal Griffin seemed the most authentic, as he recalled Griffin’s performance of a Michael Bublé song during the blind auditions. “You occupy a space that nobody occupies on this show,” Shelton said. “I occupy my own space on this show. I think we have a connection.”

In the end, Griffin headed off to Team Blake. But Stefani was not outdone, surprising the other coaches as she stole veteran Nashville country singer Craig Wayne Boyd. He earned praise for his natural stage style after losing a sing-off on Pat Green’s 2003 hit “Wave on Wave” to more traditionalist country singer James David Carter.

“Craig, you’re so comfortable on stage. It’s not like you’re in a contest. You’re performing,” Stefani told Boyd, who came alive in his music.

The show opened strong with Elyjuh René offering up a magnificent version of Keys’s “If I Ain’t Got You” alongside veteran soul singer and Yale grad Maiya Sykes.

Both from Los Angeles, they each mined energetic, nuanced and stratospheric vocal runs that had the audience and judges rapt and a pleased Williams declaring that “my team is magical.”

“That was unbelievable,” noted Stefani, who described the pair’s vocal connection as “like LEGO.”

In the end, Williams chose René, the braces-wearing teen, who cried at his big win. “You just have this ethereal quality that I want to know more about,” Levine told him.

Shelton offered high praise to both singers: “I felt like I had a front-row seat at some awesome Grammy moment watching you perform that. It was great.”

Also moving on in the battle rounds were Chris Jamison for Team Adam and Taylor John Williams and Sugar Joans for Team Gwen.

Team Pharrell beat out Levine to pick up Joans’s battle-round competitor, Jean Kelley of Atlanta, whose sing-off was among the tightest contests of the night. He called her singing on Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” “really special.”

The battle rounds continue Tuesday at 8/7c on NBC.

Source: The Voice Battle Rounds: Alicia Keys a Puts Soul Spin on ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’

Mayors in 55 Cities Fill Backpacks with Food for Hungry Children

Mayors in 55 Cities Fill Backpacks with Food for Hungry Children

Mayor of Phoenix Greg Stanton and children at Nevitt Elementary School

Tempe Elementary School District.

09/19/2014 AT 06:15 PM EDT

Thousands of students across the country this weekend will bring home backpacks filled not just with textbooks, but with plenty of food to carry them through to Monday.

Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit based in Louisville, Kentucky, provides food-filled backpacks every Friday for children in hundreds of schools across 45 states. PEOPLE introduced readers to the organization in 2012 as part of the PEOPLE First: Help Feed a Child initiative.

Mayors Jim Schmitt of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Arizona, sponsored the resolution made by the United States Conference of Mayors that declares Sept. 18 “Blessings in a Backpack Day.”

In 55 cities, mayors stepped out into their communities Thursday and packed backpacks for hungry children.

“If a child doesn’t come to school well-feed and with a nutritious meal, that affects every aspect of their life,” Stanton tells PEOPLE.

Stanton, the father of two young children, says childhood hunger “is not an acceptable situation in the most prosperous nation on earth.”

Backpacks were also filled yesterday in Arab, Alabama, a city with roughly 9,000 residents.

“A lot of students here come from [troubled] homes,” Mayor Bob Joslin tells PEOPLE. “They don’t have food on the weekend, so these backpacks are so important.”

Mayors in 55 Cities Fill Backpacks with Food for Hungry Children| Heroes Among Us, Good Deeds, Real People Stories, Real Heroes

Andrew Lebowitz, Greg Stanton and Tiffany Moore

Jack Lunsford

Every Friday during the school year, three churches in the area hand out 470 backpacks to children who need them. “Our community takes care of its own,” Joslin says.

When the organization was first featured in PEOPLE in 2012, it comprised 329 schools helping 23,490 students. It now has 696 schools feeding 65,000 students.

Blessings board member Richard Gordon says the PEOPLE First initiative helped to raise more than $1.5 million in direct donations and local funds to start new community programs.

Michael Gouloff, an architect, started a program at four elementary schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2006. All together, these programs send home 1,750 backpacks every Friday.

“It’s so important we are feeding these kids,” Gouloff says. “But the real message is that people in their community care about them.”

Source: Mayors in 55 Cities Fill Backpacks with Food for Hungry Children

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Hospitalized with Suspected Tumor

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Hospitalized with Suspected Tumor

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Richard Lautens/The Toronto Star/Zuma

09/11/2014 AT 07:45 AM EDT

Rob Ford, the controversial mayor of Toronto who became an international celebrity last year after acknowledging using crack cocaine in a “drunken stupor,” is believed to have a tumor in his abdomen, health officials said.

Dr. Rueben Devlin from Humber Regional Hospital said Wednesday night that Ford had been complaining of abdominal pains and that an examination resulted in a working diagnosis of a tumor.

He said Ford had been suffering from stomach pains for at least three months and they had worsened in the last 24 hours.

“It became unbearable for him,” he said.

Ford, 45, acknowledged using crack following months of denials. The mayor returned to work in June after a rehab stint for drug and alcohol abuse and is running for re-election on Oct. 27.

Devlin said doctor need to determine what type of tumor it is by doing a biopsy. He said he could not say how long Ford will be in the hospital.

Devlin said a CT scan done on Ford is “very definitive for the tumor” but a “definitive diagnosis” is still to come.

Ford had previously said he had abdominal surgery to remove a tumor on his appendix. “I had a major surgery on my appendix; they took out a piece of my colon. So I had a tumor in my appendix, and that’s pretty scary when that happens,” he told CTV television in a 2010 interview.

Doug Ford Sr., the mayor’s farther, died of colon cancer in 2006.

Councilor Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother and campaign manager, said Rob is in good spirits.

Doug Ford sidestepped questions about the mayoral race, saying he would speak about the campaign on Thursday. Although campaigning has been underway for months, the official deadline for candidates to sign up is Friday. That leaves time for Doug Ford, a city councilor, to step in for his brother, a possibility some have long speculated about.

Doug deflected a question about Rob’s previous health issues.

Doug said Rob complained of stomach pain while he had breakfast with Rob.

“He said his stomach was bothering him. He went to the doctor’s and the doctor sent him over to Humber,” Doug Ford said.

Dennis Morris, Ford’s lawyer and a family friend, said he spoke to the mayor on Tuesday and he didn’t mention any abdominal pain. Ford appeared well during a debate on Tuesday night.

The mayor has steadfastly refused to step down since reports emerged of a video of him smoking crack.

Olivia Chow, who is running to replace Ford, tweeted that her thoughts and hopes are with Ford and his family for good news in the days ahead. John Tory, considered the front-runner in the race, wished Ford a speedy recovery.

“My thoughts are with Mayor Ford, Renata, their children and the entire Ford family this evening,” Tory said in a statement.

Source: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Hospitalized with Suspected Tumor