Oregon woman highlights value of Death with Dignity law in Vermont

BRATTLEBORO — Brittany Maynard passed away Nov. 1. If you don't know who Brittany is, you should learn more about her.

On New Year's Day 2014, Brittany, after months of suffering from debilitating headaches, found out she has brain cancer. The 29-year-old has endured various operations and treatments, but in April, the tumor came back more aggressively and she was given six months to live.

Brittany quickly acted. She and her husband of less than a year moved from California to Oregon because Oregon, like Vermont, has the Death with Dignity law. She needed to move there early enough to establish residency so that she would qualify for medication to end her life.

She went through all the screening processes and finally got the medication, which she kept for weeks. She said she was not suicidal and didn't want to die. But she knew that she was dying, and she wanted to die on her terms.

She said that having the medication gave her an incredible sense of relief, that having the choice gave her a safety net and a sense of peace during a time that otherwise would have been dominated by fear, uncertainty, and pain.

Brittany bravely made her situation public and has helped raise the level of discussion of Death with Dignity nationwide. We are all the better for that awareness, thanks to this brave young woman who decided to share the most important decision of her life with the rest of the world.

Vermont should be proud to be one of the few states that have passed the Death with Dignity law. To learn more about your options for end-of-life choices in Vermont, visit compassionandchoices.org.

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