Dr. Oz: Brittany Maynard’s Mother Speaks Out
Dr. Oz talked to Brittany Maynard’s mother Debbie Ziegler on his show today. 29-year-old Brittany Maynard become the public face of the controversial Right-to-Die movement in October 2014, when her story made headlines throughout the world.
Brittany Maynard was newly married and still young when she learned she’d had one of the most deadly forms of brain cancer. When she was diagnosed, she and her husband were actively trying for a baby. She underwent surgery and the cancer came back just weeks later.
Dr. Oz: Death with Dignity
Doctors told her that she would have severe pain, debilitating seizures, and loss of vision, speech, and memory. Brittany made the decision to choose the way she would die, rather than die the way her brain tumor would have her die.
She moved with her family to Oregon, one of five states that have Death with Dignity laws. Brittany planned to die surrounded by her husband, best friend, mother, and stepfather. Less than a year after her diagnosis, Brittany chose to peacefully end her own life.
Dr. Oz: Debbie Ziegler Facing Death
Today, Brittany Maynard’s mother Debbie Ziegler came by Dr. Oz to talk about her daughter’s message and why she believes everyone has the right to die with dignity.
Debbie said she has good days and bad days. But she’s trying to focus on the good days and remembering her daughter at her best.
Dr. Oz showed an image of a similar tumor to the one Brittany had. The tumor was growing very large in a critical part of the brain. Doctors will telling her she had three to six months to live. There were treatments available, but they only would have prolonged her life, rather than save it.
Debbie said it was terrible watching Brittany make this decision. She said they had to let go of hope and face death.
Dr. Oz: Death with Dignity Laws
Washington, New Mexico, Vermont, Montana, and Oregon are the only Death with Dignity states. In 12 other states, legislators have introduced Death with Dignity bills. Because of Brittany’s story, there are new campaigns in several states across the nation.
Dr. Oz: Living Life to the Fullest
Debbie said that Brittany planned joy into every day of her life after getting the diagnosis, even when her headaches and seizures got worse. She wanted to plan activities and get out and do things, so she could live the rest of her life to the fullest. There were few days she didn’t feel up to doing things.
Debbie said there were many days she was mad at the universe and wondered why this was happening to her daughter. Debbie said Brittany once asked her who should we would wish this on instead. Debbie couldn’t answer and Brittany told her that’s the answer. Debbie said it was like being struck by lightning, it just happens.
Dr. Oz: Choosing When to Die
Debbie said it was Brittany’s decision to choose when she would die. Brittany penciled in a date so she wouldn’t obsess over the date. She tried to live as much life as possible up until that date. Her headaches started to become debilitating. The pain meds weren’t controlling the pain. She was having trouble walking and sleeping. Eventually, Brittany would lose her ability to swallow, and the law said you had to ingest the medicine that would kill you yourself. So Brittany wanted to do it while she could still swallow.
After taking it, within five minutes she was unconscious and sleeping. Within 30 minutes, she’d stopped breathing. Debbie said it was very fast and peaceful. She had a circle of people around her that she loved. Brittany asked her to keep reading poetry until she knew for sure Brittany was gone. Brittany was afraid they would start talking about her dying, thinking she was dead, while she was unconscious but still alive and fading out. So Debbie kept reading poetry, even though she said it was very hard.
“I read some beautiful poems. I read until someone tapped me and said, ‘She’s gone’. And then I ran downstairs. And I ran outside. And it was raining. It started to rain. And I thought, ‘How appropriate that the skies are raining and my daughter’s going,'” she said.
Debbie then got emotional and Dr. Oz consoled her. Debbie said that she wants to keep working to raise awareness about this issue, because she didn’t want other families in a similar situation to have to move to another state. She also promised her daughter she would be an advocate for Right to Die.