Cancer Patient Brittany Maynard: Her Trip of a Lifetime
For Brittany Maynard, the past few months have been about making every moment count. The 29-year-old, diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor last spring, has explored Yellowstone National Park with her husband, Dan Diaz; kayaked among the Alaskan glaciers with her best friend; and taken a “spectacular boat trip” off the coast of Juneau with her mom. “Before I pass I’m hoping to make it to the Grand Canyon,” she said in an online video posted Oct. 6.
On Oct. 21, thanks to supporters who funded it, that dream came true. “The canyon was breathtakingly beautiful,” she said in a statement about the daylong tour with Diaz, mom Debbie Ziegler and stepfather Gary Holmes, “and I was able to enjoy my time with the two things I love most: my family and nature.”
The trip, poignantly, may well be her last. Maynard intends to end her life in early November by taking a fatal dose of barbiturates prescribed by a doctor, an act that’s legal for certain terminally ill patients in Oregon. “I can always change my mind if something comes up,” she told PEOPLE, “but right now that’s the plan I’ve made.”
By going public, the former teacher has become the face of a controversial movement. She teamed with Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life-choice advocacy organization, to fight for expanding right-to-die laws nationwide. “To be able to die with my family with me, to have control of my own mind … to go with dignity is less terrifying,” she told PEOPLE in the Oct. 27 issue.
For now Maynard continues to cherish the time she has left. The morning after the Grand Canyon trip she had her “worst seizure” so far, she said in the statement. “My speech was paralyzed for quite a while after I regained consciousness.” Even in that, she finds comfort. “When I feel good, I capitalize on it,” she says. “When I’m not feeling well, I’m very fortunate that my family takes care of me.”