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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student


Death on your own terms

Brittany Maynard ended her life peacefully during Halloween weekend. Her decision was a brave and stigmatized choice that needs to be available for more patients like Maynard, if we can do it right.

She was 29 years old and had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor found in the cerebral hemispheres. She had tried once to get it removed, but it came back. She was going to die.

So she and her husband moved to Oregon, where the state’s Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill patients to end their lives through lethal doses of medications which are prescribed by a physician.

In 2013, 122 people used the act to commit medically monitored and administered suicide.

In 1998, Ramon Sampedro, a quadriplegic fisherman, fought to be the first medical suicide in Spain and eventually filmed himself committing suicide at home by drinking cyanide-laced water.

I believe medically administered suicide needs to be available to terminally ill patients, but it must be thought through.

We cannot have another case like Sampedro, whose disturbing struggle to die severely damaged the culture of thought around death with dignity.

Maynard became an advocate for Death with Dignity online and through social media, posting about how it was she arrived at her decision.

It seems when we think about medically administered suicide, we think of painful euthanasia of a depressed patient who doesn’t want to go through treatment just because.

Maynard’s cancer was incurable. Its symptoms and subsequent treatment would be incredibly ?painful.

Her decision was no different than Talia Castellano, a cancer patient famous for her YouTube videos.

Castellano had been battling cancer from a very early age and had taken to YouTube to teach girls like her how to feel beautiful.

After double diagnoses of neuroblastoma and pre-luekemia, she decided not to receive treatment and died in 2013. She, too, decided to die on her own terms.

Maynard made a smart decision. She spared her family not only the monetary expense of cancer treatments but the mental burden of watching a loved one suffer.

She was facing months to years of pain just to extend a life whose ?quality would be ?mediocre.

But she was chronically and terminally ill. If we are going to expand the Death with Dignity Act, the way that Maynard’s family wants it to be, it cannot be offered willy-nilly to every patient that comes in for treatment.

And we must teach the general public about the process in order to demolish the idea that patients who undergo the procedure are just giving up on themselves, aren’t really that sick or are in any way going to hell.

We’re all going to die, but for some facing extreme options, we should let them die peacefully and on their own terms.

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