Inspiration Tuesday: What A Dying 29-Year-Old Teaches Us About Living

What Brittany Maynard Teaches Us About Living...How many times have you had people tell you to “seize the day” or to “live life to the fullest”?

Or been asked, “What would you do if you only had six months to live?”

We answer this question somewhat safely and almost a bit too casually, if you will, taking comfort in the fact that it’s just a rhetorical question.

While, inside, shuddering a little at the thought of only having a finite period of time left.

And we push it out of our minds, because, thankfully, we can.

But this month’s Inspiration Tuesday, Brittany Maynard, can’t…

For her, this “What would you do…?” question isn’t a rhetorical one.

It’s her reality.

And it’s a reality, that, while heartbreaking and tragically unfair, offers us some simple, yet powerful lessons on living like only someone dying – and dying before their time – can.

When “Happy New Year” quickly turns into a terribly unhappy new year…

It should have been the happiest of times.What Brittany Maynard Teaches Us About Living...

Young and vibrant, Brittany Maynard, age 29, looked like she had it all…

She had been married for a little over a year…

She and her husband, Dan, were trying for a family…

And they were happily settling into married life in San Francisco.

Until New Year’s Day, 2014, when, after months of suffering debilitating headaches, Brittany received a life-changing diagnosis…

We went away to the wine country for a New Year’s Eve celebration and by the following day, I was diagnosed with cancer and told I was terminally ill. I was told I had a grade 2 astrocytoma and had 3, maybe 5, up to 10 years to live.

Seventy days post-opp, I went in for another MRI and was told it now looks like Grade 4, which is the worst and most aggressive form of brain cancer. It’s called a glioblastoma. 

So that was a major shock to my system, and to the system of my family, because I went from having potentially years of time to being told I had, like, six months.

After learning her death would likely be prolonged, painful – resistant to even morphine, and filled with personality changes and verbal, cognitive and motor loss of any kind, Brittany decided she didn’t want this “nightmare scenario” for herself or for her family.

And so, instead, she uprooted her family to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s Death-with-Dignity law, which allows physicians to prescribe terminally ill patients a life-ending prescription for them to take if and when they choose.

So that, as Brittany says, she can die on her own terms.

She can die with dignity.

What a dying 29-year-old teaches us about living…

Wow, I can’t imagine being told you have only six months to live. Can you?

Certainly not at 29 years old.

And I think that’s one of the reasons Brittany’s story is so powerful – it goes against the natural order of things.

You’re not supposed to get terminal cancer at only 29.

But, as mentioned earlier, Brittany’s story can also inspire and teach us valuable lessons about life.

Lessons like these…

: | Even in our darkest of challenges, we can still help others.

I know I’ve talked many times before on my blog about using your challenges to help others, but Brittany, perhaps more than anyone else, truly gives life to these words.

What Brittany Maynard Teaches Us About Living...With only six months to live, no one would blame Brittany if all she wanted to do was spend her precious final months and days with her family and friends. And she’s doing that.

But she’s also using her precious last days to advocate for access to death with dignity in California and nationwide in partnership with Compassion & Choices, the nation’s leading end-of-life-choice advocacy organization.

Realizing that not everyone has the resources to uproot their families, Brittany wants to make sure others can have access to death with dignity like she has had.

Even if you oppose these laws, I hope we can all agree that Brittany’s decision to use her limited time left on this earth to help others is an incredibly admirable one.

If she can take the time to help others, then surely each one of us can as well.

: | Seize the day – YOUR way.

I love the advice Brittany offers at the end of a video she made for Compassion & Choices, and that is to seize the day, figure out what matters to you, what’s important to you, what you care about most…and pursue that and forget the rest.

And, to me, the operative word in that advice is ‘you’.

What do YOU, not anyone else, care about?

How do YOU want to seize the day?

For Brittany, it’s been traveling far and wide in the time she has left and spending time with family and friends.

Maybe for you, ‘seizing the day’ is merely taking a walk on a beautiful day and enjoying the sunshine and windy breeze – and just treasuring being alive to enjoy it.

The point is…

There’s only one right way to seize the day – YOUR way!  {<– Tweet this!}

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There’s no way around it.

Brittany has been dealt perhaps the most unfairest card of them all.

A life unfairly cut short.

May her story remind each of us to never take anyone or anything for granted and to be grateful for each and every day we’re gifted with on this beautiful earth.


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To living life to your fullest,



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