Bobbing helplessly in the frigid waters off of the coast of British Columbia, Mya DeRyan, then 52, contemplated that events in her life that led her to that predicament. Months earlier — in March 2017, to be specific — Mya was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Wanting to die on her own terms, she decided to commit suicide, the Times Columnist reports.
Perhaps more than any other suicide in recent memory, DeRyan prepared for her demise. She spent what she thought would be her last summer with her son, whom she told of her plans and who was supportive. She told her friends and family her intention to die on Facebook. She left her son a goodbye note.
“My body hurts, my heart is full. It’s time. I love you.”
And so it was that on Oct. 30, at 5:45 p.m., Mya jumped from the deck of the Queen of Cowichan ferry, into the frigid waters of the Strait of Georgia.
By all rights, she should have died there in that water. Even if she didn’t drown, she would have had less than two hours to live before she died of hypothermia. What’s more, swimming and treading water robs the body of its heat even further, shortening the amount of time a person can be expected to survive.
— Mike McArthur (@vancbcmcarthur) December 29, 2016
Indeed, the Canadian Coast Guard had been searching for her five four hours — she’d inadvertently triggered the ship’s alarm when she jumped — when they finally found her. They tossed her a life preserver with little hope that her exhausted and numbed body would even be able to hold onto it.
“I had to make the conscious decision to let them rescue me.”
Though rescued, her ordeal was far from over. Her five hours in the ocean had lowered her core temperature to 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit. However, after a week of intensive care, she was released.
DeRyan later found out that she was not terminally ill at all — she was in perfect health.
It’s not clear why her headaches and nausea, the symptoms that initially caused her to seek treatment, were misdiagnosed as a terminal illness. Nor is it clear which illness doctors supposedly believed that she had.
These days, Mya is back at work in her Vancouver art gallery. Not a religious person, she does believe that a “higher spiritual order” played a role in her rescue and recovery. Her adult son, Darby Peterson, believes that something in his mother’s mind caused her to decide to live.
“It’s a miracle as much as it’s the product of her attitude, her perception of the world.”