Evangelical Christian author Joni Eareckson Tada, who has been a quadriplegic more than 47 years, has urged terminal cancer patient Brittany Maynard who plans to die through physician-assisted suicide to rethink her decision.
"Like many, my heart broke when I watched Brittany's video in which she outlined her plans to die through physician-assisted suicide. No one - absolutely no one - welcomes the pain that dealing with a terminal disease invariably brings, and it's clear that this young woman is firm in her convictions," said Tada in a statement released on Monday.
"But if I could park my wheelchair beside her, I would tell her how the love of Jesus has sustained me through my chronic pain, quadriplegia and cancer. I don't want her to wake up on the other side of her tombstone only to face a dark, grim existence without life and joy; that is, without God. There's only one person who has transformed the landscape of life-after-death, and that is Jesus, the One who conquered the grave, opening the path to life eternal. Three grams of phenobarbital in the veins will only provide a temporary reprieve. It is not the answer for the most important passage of her life.
"The hours are ticking away; please, Brittany, open your heart to the only One who can do something about your pain and your death. Life is the most irreplaceable and fundamental condition of the human experience, and I implore you to take a long, hard look at the consequences of your decision which is so fatal, and worst of all, so final."
Tada, who is the ministry leader of Joni and Friends, is an internationally recognized advocate for the disabled. The 65 year old has been a quadriplegic in a wheelchair for more than 47 years following a diving accident at age 17, and is a breast cancer survivor as well, following diagnosis and surgery in 2010.
Her plea was made in response to a YouTube video released by 29 year old Maynard announcing that she will commit suicide under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act on Nov. 1, right after her husband Dan's birthday.
In the video, Maynard reveals that after she was married last year, she began experiencing debilitating headaches that she couldn't explain until doctors told her, while she was on vacation with her husband during New Year's Day, that she had glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
After doctors told her she had six months left to live, Maynard and her family moved to Oregon in order to access assisted suicide, or the "Death With Dignity" law.
Maynard also revealed that she already has prescribed medication given in Oregon under the assisted suicide law, allowing her to die whenever she chooses.
Dan says although it is painful, he supports his wife's decision.
"Between suffering or deciding when enough is enough ... it just to me provides a lot of relief and comfort that, OK, that option is there, if and when we decide or she decides it's time," he said.
Joni and Friends work to serve the disabled community through the International Disability Center; the CID. More information can be found online at the ministry's website, www.joniandfriends.org.