Terminally Ill Brittany Maynard in New Video: Why the Decision to End My Life on Nov. 1 is My Choice
Maynard, 29, has brain cancer and had plans to end her own life on Nov. 1
With two days left before Nov. 1 – the day Brittany Maynard originally said she was planning to end her own life if her suffering became too great – the terminally ill 29-year-old woman has released an emotional video addressing how she’s feeling now that it’s so close.
“So if November 2nd comes along and I’ve passed, I hope my family is still proud of me and the choices I made,” she said Wednesday in the 6-minute video released with Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy organization, and obtained by PEOPLE.
“And if November 2nd comes along and I’m still alive, I know that we’ll just still be moving forward as a family, like, out of love for each other and that that decision will come later,” she says in the video, which was recorded Oct. 13 and 14 at her home in Portland, Oregon.
Maynard has terminal brain cancer. Last spring she was given six months to live, and in June, she, her husband, Dan Diaz, her mother, Debbie Ziegler, and her stepfather, Gary Holmes, moved to Oregon so she could get access to its Death with Dignity Act.
On Oct. 6, she launched an online video campaign with Compassion & Choices to fight for expanding death with dignity laws nationwide and spoke of her own decision to end her life with medication prescribed to her by a doctor, which is legal for certain terminally ill patients in Oregon.
In her first interview, she told PEOPLE she’d picked Nov. 1 as the day to end her life.
“I can always change my mind if something comes up but right now that’s the plan I’ve made with my family,” she told PEOPLE.
Maynard acknowledged that waiting may mean a seizure or stroke renders her incapable of making the decision but says she’s still finding joy in her everyday life.
“When people criticize me for not, like, waiting longer or whatever they’ve decided is best for me, it hurts because really I risk it,” she says.
“I risk it everyday, everyday that I wake up,” she says. “And I do it because I still feel good enough, and I still have enough joy, and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem the right time right now, but it will come because I feel myself getting sicker. It’s happening each week.”
Earlier this month, her husband told PEOPLE he did not expect her to end her life Nov. 1 “if she wakes up feeling good.”
“Brittany had to put some kind of parameters on this,” Diaz, 43, told PEOPLE.
“I talked to a counselor about this and they said for them putting a date out there gives them something to work toward and to work beyond,” he says.
“So the psychologist says, ‘That’s the way it brings comfort. A goal,’ ” he says.
Her mother told PEOPLE the date was something to “pencil in,” a starting point.
She says she’s made it clear to her daughter many times that she’ll support her no matter what she decides.
“[I’ve told her] no matter which way you want to do this – and the choice is yours all the time – if you want me to bathe you and feed you and go the long way, I will do that,” says Ziegler, 56.
“If you want me to be by your side and do death with dignity, I will do that,” she says. “It is an honor to be with her in her last days no matter what they’re like. I mean that with all my heart. Either way.”
Though she had her worst seizure yet on a recent trip to the Grand Canyon, Maynard says she’s still able to enjoy life.
“I walk with my husband. I walk with my family and my dogs,” she says in the new video. “Things like that bring me the greatest feelings of health that I have these days It sounds so cliché: ‘We take things one day at a time,’ but it’s like, that’s the only way to get through this.”
In the video, Maynard also addresses the dramatic change in her appearance (she’s gained 25 pounds) due to the steroids she takes to control the inflammation in her brain, and her hopes and dreams for her mother and husband after she’s gone.
“If all my dreams came true, I would somehow survive this but I most likely won’t,” she says. “So beyond that, having been an only child for my mother, I want her to recover from this and not break down, not suffer from any kind of depression.”
And for Diaz, “I want him to be happy, so I want him to have a family,” she says. “There’s no part of me that wants him to live out the rest of his life just missing his wife.”