Last year, in the month leading up to Brittany Maynard’s decision to end her life through Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, Kara Tippetts wrote an open letter to Brittany to answer the question: “Why we don’t have to be so afraid of dying we choose suicide.”
In her letter, Tippetts wrote, “My heart ached for you, and I’m simply grieved by your terminal brain tumor, for the less than 6 months the doctor’s gave you, you just past your 29th birthday. With a heavy heart, I left my home and headed for my oncologist. I too am dying, Brittany.”
Tippetts was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer two years ago. According to her family, it now appears she is close to death.
Tippetts’ husband, Jason wrote in his blog, “Kara has written about the long goodbye, and as much as it is heart-wrenching it is also peaceful. As I write I am watching Kara wrestle to sleep. Her sleep is mixed with moving pillows for comfort, sitting up to relieve pain, taking medication, or trying to communicate with me. But sometimes her sleep is the quietest and most peaceful event of her day. My long goodbye is full of watching and reliving memories of our life together.”
The couple lives in Colorado Springs, where they are raising four children. Together the family strives to find beauty in the presence of suffering.
“I have an us that cannot be lost. And I still get small moments where we are us. But I grieve as I watch her fade. The peace that is in our house is amazing, peace in the midst of tears, peace in the midst of impending loss, but it is peace,” Jason concluded.
Producer Jay Lyons is filming a documentary about the Tippetts’ family’s journey. Watch the trailer below:
Brittany Maynard’s choice to relocate to Portland to end her own life through Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act catapulted the 29-year-old to the forefront of the end-of-life rights debate. After advocating for end-of-life rights through organizations like Compassion & Choices, Maynard ended her life by medicated suicide in November.
Oregon is currently one of only five states allowing euthanasia in certain circumstances. Suffering from terminal brain cancer, Maynard chose to die following a seizure – an occurrence growing increasingly common during the final days of her life.
Beside Brittany throughout her trials and final choice was her husband of two years, Dan Diaz. This week, Diaz opened up about his experiences with Maynard in her final days and the pain he still feels from her loss.
“I have good days and bad days,” Diaz told People Magazine. “But the feeling of loss is always there – particularly in the morning when I first wake up. And at night, when the house is quiet and I’m just there with the dogs. I think about her every day.”
Diaz recalled Maynard’s final day in an interview with “The Meredith Vieira Show.”
“The seizure that morning was a reminder of what she was risking because what was coming next was losing her eyesight, becoming paralyzed and an inability to speak,” Diaz said. “And then she would essentially be trapped in her own body.”
After a walk with her husband and dog, Maynard took the suicidal medication in the presence of her family members on Nov. 1.
“It truly was the most peaceful experience that you could ever hope for when you talk about a person’s passing,” Diaz said. “I carry [her driver license] with me and any time I open my wallet I see her smiling face.”
Maynard’s decision remains rooted in controversy. Her YouTube video pronouncing her decision to end her life garnered over 11 million views, advocating for the right of assisted suicide.
Diaz continues to advocate for Death With Dignity legislation, and remains proud of his wife’s courage. While expressing how deeply he misses her, Diaz recognized that it would be selfish for him to want her to stay and prolong her own suffering.
“She was surrounded by the people she loved, and her passing was peaceful,” Diaz said.
We witnessed two tragedies last weekend.
Brittany Maynard changed her previous decision to delay and ended her life on Saturday, November 1. Her decision came after a seizure late in October when she decided to take control before her condition worsened.
Her last days with family and friends ended in Oregon, after moving to the state to take advantage of Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act.
The same weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio, another young woman coped with the reality of a short time remaining.
19-year-old Lauren Hill of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, loves basketball. She spent high school honing her skills and refining her passion for the sport. She even dreamed of playing in college.
But an inoperable brain tumor cut short all her dreams.
Hill wanted to play just one college game, but she also wanted to make a difference. Xavier University supplied the venue to inspire countless people through a benefit game to raise funds for cancer research.
“This game was amazing,” Hill said. “It was awesome in every way. It’s a dream come true. To play on a college court, to put my foot down on the floor and hear the roar of the crowd — I just love it so much. I love basketball.
“Everything that happened today was amazing. I’m truly happy, it’s a really good day.”
Sunday’s game gave Hill her one chance to play in a college court and saw her team carry the day 66-55. Her inspiring performance brought the sellout crowd of 10,250 to their feet with applause.
Even though Hill is expected to live less than a year, her story is not over yet. Brittany Maynard brought attention to the stories of young men and women facing imminent tragedy and inspired many to make the most of life.
Brittany Maynard and her husband on a family trip to the Grand Canyon – the final adventure on her bucket list.
Brittany Maynard decided to follow through with her earlier decision to end her own life through doctor-prescribed lethal medication. Maynard died surrounded by her family and husband, Daniel Diaz, in the comfort of her bedroom on Saturday, November 1.
“I don’t want to die,” Maynard told CBS News in mid-October. “If anyone wants to hand me, like, a magical cure and save my life so that I can have children with my husband, you know, I will take them up on it.”
Compassion & Choices Spokesperson Sean Crowley explained that Maynard’s worsening condition convinced her to retract her recent decision to delay ending her own life.
“Brittany suffered increasingly frequent and longer seizures, severe head and neck pain, and stroke-like symptoms,” Crowley said. “She died as she intended – peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones.”
Maynard explained the agony of continued life in her own words: “I think until anyone has walked a mile in my shoes and knows what they’re facing and has felt the – like, just bone-splitting headaches that I get sometimes, or the seizures, or the inability to speak, or the moments where I’m looking at my husband’s face and I can’t think of his name.”
On October 23, Maynard shared the following note through Compassion & Choices – the organization she teamed with to advocate for end-of-life rights:
This week, my family and I traveled to the Grand Canyon, thanks to the kindness of Americans around the country who came forward to make my “bucket list” dream come true. The Canyon was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was able to enjoy my time with the two things I love most: my family and nature.
Sadly, it is impossible to forget my cancer. 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. However, I find meaning and take pride that the Compassion & Choices movement is accelerating rapidly, thanks to supporters like you. 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. My dream is that every terminally ill American has access to the choice to die on their own terms with dignity. Please take an active role to make this a reality. The person you’re helping may be someone you love, or even in the future, yourself.
According to data from the Oregon Public Health Division, Maynard is the 7th person in the 18 to 34 age bracket to die from the ingestion of lethal medication under Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act.
Crowley said yesterday that Maynard “is educating a whole new generation on this issue. She is the most natural spokesperson I have ever heard in my life. The clarity of her message is amazing. She is getting people to consider this issue who haven’t thought of it before. She’s a teacher by trade and, she’s teaching the world.”
Family, friends, and inspired persons around the country continue to mourn the loss of 29-year-old Maynard, who so courageously shared her story with the world. Compassion & Choices is expected to release a statement in the upcoming days.
Brittany Maynard is a 29-year-old woman who, just weeks ago, had an entire life of promise and happiness ahead of her.
But one diagnosis can turn a promising beginning into a tragic end.
When Maynard learned she had stage IV brain cancer, she decided it was not worth fighting the diagnosis. She moved to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s Death With Dignity Act.
After becoming the first state to enact a Death with Dignity Act in 1997, Oregon is one of just five states that allows a physician to assist in the suicide of a terminally ill patient. Lifenews reports a total of 752 patients who have died in Oregon using lethal prescriptions.
Death With Dignity Act
Maynard’s story drew national media attention earlier this month for her plan to take her own life in Oregon.
This story changed in an interview with CBS News on Wednesday, when she said she will wait to see how the disease progresses.
Maynard said: “My glioblastoma is going to kill me, and that’s out of my control. I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying.
My entire family has gone through a cycle of devastation. I’m an only child – this is going to make tears come to my eyes. For my mother, it’s really difficult, and for my husband as well, but they’ve all supported me because they’ve stood in hospital rooms and heard what would happen to me.”
Coming just days before her planned suicide, she is delaying her decision and may in fact continue to bring us her story of hope and inspiration for a while longer.