Death with Dignity gains national recognition

Two weeks ago on Nov. 1, Brittany Maynard, a San Francisco resident and UC Berkeley graduate, ended her life.

Maynard was diagnosed with a rare form of terminal brain cancer in January of this year after a New Year’s celebration with her husband and friends.

At first, doctors told Maynard she had potentially ten years to live. But that all changed after a second MRI discovered a tremendous grade change in her cancer. It went from grade 1, to 4, which is considered the worst grade of cancer.

She didn’t want to undergo the treatments due to her fear and dread of the pain she was told the treatment would bring.

Maynard explored other options and moved to Oregon where Death with Dignity is allowed by law. Once settled in Oregon, Maynard reached out to Compassion & Choices, which is the nation’s leading end-of-life choice advocacy organization about bringing attention to the importance of dying with dignity.

“I can’t even tell you the amount of relief it provides me to know that I don’t have to die the way that has been described to me that my brain cancer will take me”, said Maynard during an interview with CNN on Oct. 7.

Maynard’s story has gained tremendous recognition around the world with responses in support as well as from skeptics.

“When people criticize me for not waiting longer, it hurts because I risk it everyday that I wake up. It doesn’t seem like the right time right now but it will come because I feel myself getting sicker every week”, said Maynard during a second interview with Compassion & Choices in response to her critics.

Death with Dignity is a right that only a handful of states in the country have granted their terminally ill residents.

The medication is prescribed by the patient’s doctor and can be taken at any point when the patient feels that the fight against their suffering is no longer bearable.

Death with Dignity has gained significant news coverage with Maynard’s case and another case that surfaced just last week when an Alameda resident, Jerry Canfield, shot his wife and killed her.  

“I shot her to end her suffering,” Canfield told police after he had went into the Alameda 

Police Department to confess to the killing. He informed police he and his wife, Joann Canfield had agreed if she were to become extremely ill, he would end her life.

This story has sparked controversy among the nation as well. Many people have expressed their sorrow for Canfield. Some like his neighbor, Bridget Milet, believe that this case is a case of mercy and that Canfield is innocent.

“Whenever I’d see them, it restored my faith in married people,” said Milet during an interview with KTVU Channel 2 News. “They just loved each other. If there were a such thing as a mercy killing, this would be it.”

Both stories involve someone who is terminally ill and chooses to take their life. However, one death is legal, while the other is a crime.