Brittany Maynard's Husband Reflects on Her Advocacy Work 6 Years After She Ended Her Life amid Cancer
At age 29, Brittany Maynard had stage 4 glioblastoma, a malignant brain tumor, and doctors told her she had six months to live
At 29, Maynard was diagnosed with brain cancer and given six months to live. She decided to end her life on her own terms and utilized a prescribed fatal dose of barbiturates, instead of allowing the cancer to run its course.
"Six years ago today, (November 1st) I held Brittany in my arms as she died, gently. Her dying process was peaceful only because she took that control back from the brain tumor," Diaz wrote on Facebook Sunday.
"Brittany would not allow the cancer's worsening symptoms to torture her to death. She insisted on remaining her whole self, not a paralyzed suffering victim that would languish and wither away," he continued.
Maynard was an advocate and activist for the controversial right-to-die movement. With Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life advocacy organization, she tirelessly worked to expand death-with-dignity laws around the country.
"My glioblastoma is going to kill me and that's out of my control," she told PEOPLE after her diagnosis. "I've discussed with many experts how I would die from it and it's a terrible, terrible way to die. So being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying."
In June 2014, she moved from California to Oregon with her husband Diaz, her mother Debbie Ziegler, and her stepfather Gary Holmes, so she could have access to the state's Death with Dignity Act, which allows physicians to prescribe life-ending medication to certain terminally ill patients.
When Maynard died, it was only available in Washington, Oregon, Vermont and Montana. Currently, nine states in the United States, including Washington D.C., allow the terminally ill to die with medical assistance.
"Her advocacy for terminally ill individuals to have the option of medical aid in dying forever changed the way society views end of life care and end of life options," Diaz wrote on Sunday. "Thank you Brittany, for your determination to make a difference for the rest of us and raising your voice to demand change. I miss you deeply."
In September, Diaz celebrated what would have been his and Maynard's eighth wedding anniversary. "On this very day eight years ago, Brittany and I were married. We promised to spend our lives with one another; neither of us imagining that would be cut so short," he wrote on Sept. 29. "I reflect upon and celebrate every moment we had together. I miss you dearly."
Back in 2019, Diaz told PEOPLE that he has continued Maynard's advocacy for the right-to-die movement, traveling to 14 state capitals and Capitol Hill to speak with legislators. He also travels to educate the general public at rotary clubs, assisted living facilities, palliative care conferences as well as high schools and colleges.
"They say that the things that you do for yourself are gone when you're gone, but the things that you do for other people, that’s your legacy, that’s what lives on," he said at the time.
"I'm immensely proud of her legacy and of her determination to speak up even as she was navigating the chaos of that disease," Diaz shared.
This story originally appeared on people.com