Brittany Maynard, Terminally Ill Woman, Chooses to Die With Dignity November 1

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Brittany Maynard, who suffers from a terminal brain tumor is making headlines not because she is fighting for her life, but because she is declining to do so.

The married 29-year-old, who in April was given six months to live, plans to end her own life with medication prescribed by her doctor on November 1.

She wants to make it clear that this is not suicide, however.

Brittany Maynard Photo

Maynard will launch a campaign with the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy organization, to fight for expanding death-with-dignity laws.

"There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die," she says. "I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there's not."

She has a stage 4 glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor.

"My glioblastoma is going to kill me. That's out of my control," she says. "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."

A six-minute video from Compassion & Choices includes interviews with Brittany as well as her mom, Debbie Ziegler, and husband, Dan Diaz.

"My entire family has gone through a cycle of devastation," Maynard laments. "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."

Brittany Maynard, Husband

Maynard was a newlywed when she started having debilitating headaches last January, and shortly thereafter, she learned she had brain cancer.

"My husband and I were actively trying for a family, which is heartbreaking for us," she says, adding that three months later, she knew it was terminal.

After researching all her options after her diagnosis, Maynard, who was living in San Francisco at the time, decided aid in dying was her best option.

Her entire family moved to Portland, Oregon, earlier this year so she could have access to Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, which was passed in 1997.

Since then, 1,173 people have had prescriptions written under the act, and 752 have used them to die on their own terms. Brittany will make it 753.

Before then, though, in mid-October, Maynard will videotape testimony to be played for California lawmakers and voters at the appropriate time.

"Right now it's a choice that's only available to some Americans, which is really unethical," she says, calling it "profound" how hard it is to do what she is.

"There's tons of Americans who don’t have time or the ability or finances," she says, "and I don't think that's right or fair. I believe this choice is ethical."

"I'm dying, but I'm choosing to suffer less," she says, reiterating that this is "to put myself through less physical and emotional pain and my family as well."

"What makes it ethical is it is a choice," she says. "The patient can change their mind right up to the last minute. I feel very protected here in Oregon."

But Maynard says she won't change hers. In fact, the date was chosen for a reason.

"I really wanted to celebrate my husband's birthday, which is October 30," she says.

"I'm getting sicker, dealing with more pain and seizures, so I just selected it."

Maynard says her exhaustion has "increased a lot" recently and "I try not to hold onto the dogs anymore because the past few weeks I've fallen a few times."

"I was in the hospital two weeks ago after two seizures," she says. "Immediately after, I lost my ability to speak for a few hours. So it's scary, very frightening."

Which is why she knows she's making the right decision.

When Maynard passes away November 1, she will do so in the bedroom she shares with her husband. By her side will be her mother, stepfather, husband and best friend.

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