doveI Am Thankful For My Quality of Life

Brittany Maynard, 29, was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer and moved to Portland, Oregon a few months ago in order to terminate her life.  Under Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, a terminally ill patient can legally end their life through voluntary self administration of lethal medications.  Brittany spent her last months of life after being diagnosed in the spring, surrounded by family and traveling when her health allowed her to.  The effects of the brain cancer became more and more debilitating.  Brittany, her husband, family and friends seemed to be at peace with the decision that she made.

“My glioblastoma is going to kill me and that’s out of my control,” she told PEOPLE last month.

“I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die.

So being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying.”

Brittany Maynard’s mental state didn’t seem to be one of hopelessness, helplessness or desperation as I can remember feeling when I attempted suicide over 7 years ago.  I wasn’t at peace with my family, friends or even God.  I wanted out because life for me seemed too painful.  However, in retrospect I had the power to change my circumstances and situation.  I am thankful that God gave me another chance not only to change my life but to find my life’s purpose.  Brittany Maynard didn’t have the power to change her life/health.  But maybe just maybe she found her purpose and fulfilled it.  She became the public face of the right-to-die movement.  She lived her final moments on her terms and may have taught us a little about compassion.  We can never understand what she was experiencing.  I can only remember the last 3 days I spent with my father when he too was battling brain cancer.  He had been given 6 months and survived 9 but during his final days he couldn’t say anything at all.  He had lost so much weight and it wasn’t the father I had known for the previous 30 years of my life.  When the doctors began administering morphine, I knew I only had a matter of hours left with my father.

I wish I could have had one last conversation with my father.  I wish he could have told me what he was thinking in those final moments.  I wish my last memory of him was not lying in a bed with tubes connected to him.  I wish he could have died with dignity because maybe I would have known he was dying sooner than just the last 3 days of his life.  He didn’t tell anyone when he was diagnosed.  His words were, ‘I don’t want my children to worry”.  Brittany was even able to leave some last words not just to her family and friends but to the rest of us that have been touched by her story.

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love.

Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me

… but would have taken so much more,” she wrote on Facebook. “The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers.

I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

Today, I am thankful for my life, the people in it and my health.  I am thankful for the opportunity to discover and live out my life’s purpose.  I am thankful for the ability to understand what others may be facing, show compassion and be free of judgement.

I show my scars so that others know they can heal.” Someone needs to see your scars!

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Sunday Mourning