Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old cancer-stricken woman determined to take her own life under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act on Nov. 1, celebrated the completion of her bucket list with a visit to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, as one survivor reminded her in a powerful video that "life is beautiful always."
"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," wrote Maynard in a note posted Oct. 24 on The Brittany Maynard Fund website.
Maynard, who has asserted her right to take her own life before terminal brain cancer ends it painfully for her, recently placed the world on a death watch when she teamed up with nonprofit organization Compassion & Choices to promote the concept of "helping everyone have the best death possible" through assisted suicides.
Oregon, according to The Brittany Fund, is one of only five states, including Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico that allows assisted suicides. Brittany is pushing for this choice to be available in every state as she faces her cancer.
Despite her joy in visiting the breathtaking Grand Canyon, Maynard took some time in her note to remind her supporters of her cancer and the need to push for assisted suicide across the U.S.
"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," she said in her note.
"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," she said.
"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," she ended.
Despite her convictions, however, people from across the world, including many cancer survivors who beat long odds, encouraged her to choose life as long as she has it.
In one moving video message to Maynard, cancer survivor Marcel Schreur of England reminded her that "life is beautiful always."
"Dear Brittany, I feel ya. Cancer is tough, I've lived it twice. Surgery to my leg, arm, neck, mouth, and tongue," he began to a soundtrack of gentle piano music.
"Specialists told me having kids was an impossibility. I also spent 12 years with declining supply of oxygen to my brain. Yeah … dementia, lived a nightmare, death was approaching and still is. There were times when they dared not even operate on me. I had little chance at all … 26 happy years later I'm still here. Apparently, the lone surviving tongue cancer patient in the world.
"And from the way I see it, despite all the mental, social, emotional and physical hindrances, is that life is beautiful always," he ended, smiling with two young children.