Brittany Maynard has stage 4 brain cancer, and she was given roughly six months to live back in April. Rather than face the debilitating disease to its bitter end, Maynard has chosen to use Oregon's euthanasia laws to allow her to use assisted suicide to end her life in November. But now scientists claim they may have a brain cancer cure in the form of stem cell therapy.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, a terminally ill cancer patient named Kara Tippetts is publicly begging her to reconsider going for assisted suicide, claiming, "You have been told a lie. A horrible lie, that your dying will not be beautiful. That the suffering will be too great." Maynard has publicly responded to critics by saying that she does not want to die. The controversy surrounding Maynard's support of euthanasia has caused a Christian priest to say that Maynard needs compassion, not judgment, as her remaining hours dwindle.
The controversy over Brittany Maynard has also extended into the medical community. Dr. Ira Byock, of the Providence Institute for Human Caring, said that Maynard is "being exploited" by a nonprofit group Compassion & Choices in order to advocate death-with-dignity laws. Maynard publicly wrote back, saying this was not the case.
"Perhaps most disturbingly, Byock claimed that Compassion & Choices had somehow taken advantage of me through 'exploitation' and that I feel compelled to die now based on public expectations," Maynard wrote. "I DO NOT, this is MY choice, I am not that weak. The day is my choice, I have the right to change my mind at any time, it is my right. I am very confident about this. This is a patient right that is critical to understanding Death with Dignity."
According to NBC News, Dr. Bryock believes there is more to the assisted suicide debate than Maynard's choice.
"One of the things I disagree with is that Brittany Maynard has just said again that she thinks it's her personal choice. But you know, physician-assisted suicide is not a personal act, it's a social act. Physicians aren't personal. We are trained by society … So when a physician writes a lethal prescription, it's a social act."
At this point, Brittany Maynard has only three choices: wait until the cancer causes her death, go through her original plans involving euthanasia, or hope that a novel new brain cancer cure may save her. Unfortunately, this third option only became feasible in recent times, when scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute announced they had successfully managed to genetically engineer a potential brain cancer cure.
The goal of the research was to create artificial stem cells that could create cancer-killing toxins within a tumor without harming healthy cells. Dr. Khalid Shah says the initial results have been very positive.
"After doing all of the molecular analysis and imaging to track the inhibition of protein synthesis within brain tumors, we do see the toxins kill the cancer cells," said Shah. "Cancer-killing toxins have been used with great success in a variety of blood cancers, but they don't work as well in solid tumors because the cancers aren't as accessible and the toxins have a short half-life. Now, we have toxin-resistant stem cells that can make and release cancer-killing drugs."
According to BBC News, this potential brain cancer cure has worked in animal tests, and the next stage is testing it on a variety of brain tumors. Unfortunately, in the case of Brittany Maynard, this good news comes too late since human clinical trials are not expected until the next five years.