Worldviews collide in viral letter between cancer patients

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 10/14/14, 03:47 pm

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with stage IV terminal brain cancer, made national news and re-kindled a public conversation with her decision to end her life as soon as Nov. 1. Maynard moved from California to Oregon so she could legally take her own life under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, and expressed her hopes that other states would follow suit. Her doctors, she said, have given her a pill that will allow her to end her life in her own room, with her family, when she decides.

Kara Tippetts, a mother with terminal cancer who recently interviewed by WORLD’s Warren Cole Smith, responded with an open letter published on Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience. Tippetts pleaded with Maynard to keep her life and graciously suggested that doctors who facilitate assisted suicide are abandoning the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.”

Tippetts’ letter has been shared more than 1 million times over Facebook. Her book, The Hardest Peace, hit the top 15 in sales of Christian books and Bibles on

“Brittany, I love you, and I’m sorry you are dying. I am sorry that we are both being asked to walk a road that feels simply impossible to walk,” Tippetts wrote in the open letter, published Oct. 8. “Dear heart, we simply disagree. Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known.”

Tippetts is a mother of four and, much like Maynard, is facing a death that won’t be long in coming now that the cancer, which began as breast cancer, has metastasized throughout her body. Tippetts addressed the social issue of assisted suicide but focused more on the nature of suffering and grace.

“Yes, your dying will be hard, but it will not be without beauty,” she wrote. Maynard appeared today on CBS News, saying she doesn’t want to die. She said she hoped to live to Nov. 1, after which she would decide when to commit suicide.

Listen to Warren Cole Smith’s interview with Kara Tippetts on Listening In:

Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is a World Journalism Institute graduate. Follow Rachel on Twitter @Rachel_Lynn_A.

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