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Advocate Spotlight: Dan Diaz

Five years after his wife’s death, Dan Diaz carries on their work to pass medical aid-in-dying laws nationwide.

Dan Diaz and his late wife, Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old California woman dying of brain cancer, came to Compassion & Choices on a mission to improve people’s end-of-life options in October of 2014. In doing so, they changed the movement forever. 

Since then, the alliance has catalyzed the introduction and passage of medical aid-in-dying laws nationwide, increasing by more than fivefold the number of Americans who have access to this option to peacefully end unbearable suffering. 

Compassion & Choices’ partnership with Dan and Brittany launched with a YouTube video that more than 12 million people have watched. The video describes why Brittany and her family had to move to Oregon, so she could utilize its medical aid-in-dying law to peacefully end her intolerable suffering from terminal brain cancer because California did not have such a law. The campaign generated global media attention, drawing more than six million unique viewers from nearly 240 countries to our website and garnering a People Magazine cover story. The People.com version was the biggest story in Time Inc. publication history. 

Before Brittany died on Nov. 1, 2014, she issued a challenge for others to carry on her advocacy. “I hope for the sake of other American citizens all these people that I’m speaking to that I’ve never met, that I’ll never meet, that this choice be extended to you,” she said in one of her videos watched by millions of people. “That we mobilize, that we vocalize, that we start to talk about it.”

To this day, Dan continues to answer that challenge. “I love Brittany, and I didn’t want to see her suffer needlessly. The seizures she experienced were horrific. It was a reminder of what was coming next: blindness, the inability to speak, unrelenting head pain, paralysis. In a word: torture,” he says.”Having medical aid in dying as an end-of-life option provided great relief, enabling her to focus on living her last days to the fullest rather than having to worry about dying in agony from terminal brain cancer. I now carry on by dedicating myself to fulfilling my promise to Brittany.”

Dan Diaz will appear at a free Compassion & Choices Day of the Dead event from 11:00 a.m. – noon PT at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, 4190 Front Street. Please join us!


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