PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A 29-year-old terminally ill woman who plans to take her life under Oregon’s death-with-dignity law has fulfilled a wish on her bucket list: She visited the Grand Canyon.
Brittany Maynard visited the national park with her family last week. Maynard, who has advanced brain cancer, has said she plans to take advantage of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act and end her own life Saturday, though she could still change her mind.
Maynard and her husband moved to Oregon from Northern California because Oregon allows terminally ill patients to end their lives with lethal medications prescribed by a doctor.
More than 750 people in Oregon used the law to die as of Dec. 31, 2013. The median age of the deceased was 71. Only six were younger than 34, like Maynard.
Maynard has become an advocate for the group Compassion & Choices, which seeks to expand death-with-dignity laws around the nation. A nationwide media campaign featuring Maynard’s story has gone viral.
Maynard’s family has said she has «wanderlust.» Since becoming ill, Maynard has travelled to Yellowstone National Park and to Alaska. In a video, Maynard said she wanted to visit Grand Canyon before her death.
She posted photos of her visit to the Grand Canyon on the Compassion & Choices website.
In one photo she poses with her parents in front of the great rock formations. In another, she kisses her husband as they stand on the canyon’s rim. She’s wearing a pink sweater and sunglasses, and is smiling.
On Compassion & Choices’ website, Maynard wrote the trip was sponsored by «Americans around the country who came forward to make my ‘bucket list’ dream come true.»
Maynard wrote that the morning after the trip she had her «worst seizure thus far,» and her speech was paralyzed for a long time after she regained consciousness.
Maynard takes prescription drugs to reduce the swelling in her brain and to minimize seizures, but the drugs have side effects that include weight gain and swelling of the face.
Oregon in 1997 became the first state to make it legal for a doctor to prescribe a life-ending drug to a terminally ill patient of sound mind who makes the request. The patient must swallow the drug without help; it is illegal for a doctor to administer it.
Five states now allow patients to seek aid in dying: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico – though New Mexico’s attorney general is now appealing a ruling in his state that allows terminally ill patients to seek a physician’s help in dying.
There is no minimum residency requirement in Oregon to participate in the act, but a patient must prove state residency to a doctor. Some examples of documentation include a rental agreement, a voter registration card or a driver’s license.
Maynard has said she and her husband were newlyweds actively trying for a family when she learned on New Year’s Day that she had brain cancer. By spring, she was given six months to live.
«I didn’t launch this campaign because I wanted attention,» Maynard wrote. «I did this because I want to see a world where everyone has access to death with dignity, as I have had. My journey is easier because of this choice.»
Maynard has said she isn’t suicidal but wants to die on her own terms.