One of life’s big questions that is often answered with the words: Trust, sacrifice, kindness, caring, and support. For Dan and Brittany it also included the terms: advocating, researching, and navigating. Love can seem extremely complex but sometimes it’s as simple as standing next to the one you love and just holding their hand. For Dan it culminated in holding Brittany in his arms as she died gently on November 1, 2014. He reflects on his experience of truly living life with Brittany and continuing to honor her legacy by carrying her message forward.
How do we ensure we never stray from fostering an environment where our loved-ones or patients feel understood, informed, and truly supported? How do we have those tough conversations with compassion and empathy? Dan shares poignant moments from the ten months that Brittany and Dan were navigating the chaos of that brain tumor. He highlights conversations that were so vitally important to Brittany’s care and fueled her ability to press forward; and other instances where the manner in which the information was delivered was almost as detrimental as the bad news itself. Can an individual learn to have empathy? Can a person be taught to be more self-aware? Brittany’s own words and life lessons are shared throughout this moving presentation.
Brittany’s story led to the passage of legislation in California less than a year after her death and it prompted the introduction of similar legislation in 25 other States. Her story was featured on 60 Minutes, CNN, the Meredith Vieira show, CBS, Oprah Winfrey’s Network, NBC, People Magazine, Fox News, etc. How does a movement gain that type of momentum and exposure? In keeping his promise to Brittany, Dan spent 2015 advocating for the passage of legislation in California. It required a balance of tireless activism, intense legislative efforts, and ever present media exposure. Accurately informing the public of the reality of what Brittany endured as she battled the brain tumor was of monumental importance. Dan shares how Brittany’s voice made such an immense difference on the topic of End of Life Options.
Every living creature has a beginning, a middle, and an end. As a society we celebrate the beginning of life, and these days we seem to frantically rush through the middle part. But we avoid at all cost even discussing the last part – dying. The avoidance of merely recognizing our own collective mortality results in living with an unnecessary amount of fear and denial in our subconscious. While death and dying might seem like scary topics, a basic and thoughtful acknowledgment of our own mortality provides a freedom to truly live life. Brittany’s story is a story of love, determination, and adventurously living life. Dan shares Brittany’s writings and thoughts on ‘doing some living while you’re alive.’ In the end, Brittany did not die as a ‘victim’ to cancer. She died in the same manner that she lived her life, with grace, compassion, and love.
What is a Death with Dignity program? What are the requirements of the legislation and the parameters for qualifying? Dan speaks very candidly about this medical practice that afforded Brittany the option of a gentle passing if it were to become necessary for her. He provides a firsthand account of the logic behind the decisions that a terminally ill individual makes as she navigates the end of life. Dan explains the concerns Brittany faced and the safeguards that protected her throughout the process. Just as important, he shares what the program is not. He dispels the misguided and inappropriate narratives that swirl in the media which are routinely used to sensationalize and drive ratings. His varied experiences while providing testimony at Senate hearings across the country will amuse the audience. Dan provides a behind the scenes look at how the noble profession of medicine collides with policy makers, lawyers, legislators and special interests.
Dan Diaz is the husband of Brittany Maynard, the 29 year old woman who died in November 2014 from a brain tumor. The couple moved from California to Oregon, one of four states that had authorized medical aid-in-dying, in order for Brittany to have the option of a gentle dying process. As a result of Brittany’s story, legislators have introduced bills to authorize medical aid-in-dying in over 25 states. Dan advocates for expanding the availability of end of life options for terminally ill individuals. His efforts were instrumental in securing the passage of the legislation in California, the promise that he made to Brittany. He also played a role in helping Colorado’s passage in 2016 and D.C. in 2017. His efforts to advance similar bills continue in the states across the country.