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Public face of patient's rights, Brittany Maynard died peacefully on Saturday

by , 05 November 2014

After suffering bouts of illness for weeks, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard found out she had stage 4 brain cancer on New Year's day.

Initially, her doctors said she'd live for years! But after a failed attempt to remove the tumour and more tests, she got the devastating news in April: She only had six months.

That's when she decided she wasn't going to let her illness ruin her life. And she definitely wasn't going to let it ruin her family's.

Read on to find out how Brittany became the public face of patient's rights. And how you too can help your family learn to live with your decision should you be facing a similar situation…

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Brittany took her own life before her brain tumour could

 
Brittany decided she would take her own life because “being able to go with dignity is less terrifying.”
 
With this, her name’s become synonymous with patient’s rights all over America. Running the “Dying with Dignity” campaign on social media, celebs and the public alike have been following her through her decision to die with dignity.
 
And dignity was the main reason for her decision.
 
She didn’t want her husband or mother to have to care for her 24/7, cleaning her and changing her diapers.
 
Even though her mother said she would without a second thought, she knew it would be selfish to ask Brittany to reconsider just so she had more time with her daughter.
 
But it was far from an easy decision for her to go.
 
Towards the end of October, Brittany sent messages to her social media supporters saying she was still able to smile and laugh with her family and she might push her “deadline” away from November 1st.
 
But after progressively getting sicker every week and having stopped treatment altogether, she didn’t want to become so ill she couldn’t do it by herself anymore. And she certainly didn’t want to wait until the tumour took her life.
 
So, on Saturday the 1st of November, she took a lethal dose of prescription medication and died peacefully surrounded by family and close friends.
 
Not everyone will agree with her decision and others will blatantly refute it but, until you’ve been in the same situation, you can’t judge.
 
If you are in the same position – and are trying to find the courage to tell your family and friends your decision – here’s how you can approach it…
 
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Be open with your family and friends about your intention to stop cancer treatment

 
While physician-assisted suicide isn’t legal in SA, you have the right to refuse further treatment.
 
But, as you already know, it’s not something people tend to understand.
 
Most people believe if you have the opportunity to live – even if it’s for a short time – you should take it. But they’re not the ones suffering, are they?
 
Your only choice is to tell them your decision and help them understand.
 
·         Get as much information about your illness as you can before you speak to your family and friends;
·         Gather information about the treatment options too;
·         Ask your doctor and source other information about the success of treatment vs. health risks it has;
·         Make a list of the reasons you choose to refuse treatment and be confident about them in your explanation;
·         Be tactful. Telling your family and friends the reasons in a positive way shows you care about their feelings and reactions to your decision.
 
Having facts and medical explanations is an invaluable part of explaining your decision became it takes some of the emotion out of it.
 
It may also be helpful to speak to a psychologist about your impending discussion before. She can help you state your reasons in a way that makes it easier to understand.
 
In the end, it’s your decision. And while you care about your family and friends, it’s essential they respect your wishes too…

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