Brittany Maynard has precisely 26 days to live. She knows this because she has chosen the date she will pass away, peacefully and painlessly, in her Oregon home. She’ll be surrounded by a small group of people — including her mother and husband — whom she loves. Maynard selected November 1 for her death because her husband’s birthday is on October 30, and she wants to celebrate with him.
It’s not a coincidence that Brittany and her family live in one of the only five U.S. states that allow assisted suicide. Soon after Brittany was married last year, she began experiencing debilitating, unexplained headaches. On January 1, 2014, while on vacation with her husband, Brittany was diagnosed with a grade II astrocytoma — a severe brain tumor that doctors predicted would allow Brittany at most 10 years to live. “I have to tell you,” she states in the video above, “when you’re 29 years old, being told you have that kind of timeline still feels like being told you’re going to die tomorrow.”
A few months later, Brittany’s prognosis shifted dramatically. Despite having undergone surgery, her cancer had progressed to glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the deadliest form of brain cancer. With treatment, GBM’s median survival time is around 14.6 months, meaning that half of those with GBM live for longer than 14.6, and half live for less. Brittany was given six months. Doctors explained that her death would be slow and painful as her tumor grew — a worsening progression of headaches, nausea, vomiting, weakness, and seizures.