Why Ethan Hallmark’s Story Matters in Light of Brittany Maynard’s Decision to Die Nov. 1

DALLAS, Texas, October 21, 2014 At 29 years old, Brittany Maynard has received national attention for her choice to die on Nov. 1 under her own terms. Hundreds of miles away from her home in Oregon, the life of 13-year-old Ethan Hallmark of Midlothian, Texas, tells a different story of death.

EthanHallmarkOn Sept. 26, Ethan finally succumbed to a four-year battle with stage-4 Neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of pediatric cancer.

“We live in a society that doesn’t like to talk about suffering,” Ethan’s mom, Rachel, wrote in a recent blog post (http://bit.ly/1CKNt43). “Poverty, children with cancer, dying…they just don’t exist if we don’t talk about them. You can even see our society’s refusal to discuss suffering disguised as a hot button issue: euthanasia. You might also see it referred to as dying with dignity. Thirteen years old and my son was not like mainstream America. He knew suffering was as much of a part of life as happiness was.”

Ethan’s courageous battle with cancer was an inspiration to his family, friends and community as he showed how a young man in the midst of pain, suffering and death could still find joy and hope in life.

“Suffering exists all over this world in far greater forms than cancer,” wrote Rachel. “Taking a pill to give yourself an early demise isn’t the solution whether you are facing cancer, poverty, warfare, abuse, or any of the endless other forms of suffering. With fearless bravery, he [Ethan] accepted that life wasn’t always easy, that sometimes we have to face giants we’d prefer not to.”

In her blog post, Rachel describes her son’s journey of dying with dignity despite intense pain, including his choosing toward the end of his life to forgo aggressive therapies to slow the inevitable effects of his disease.

Ethan’s story and unconventional perspective has transformed his community and captured the attention of local media and even a few celebrities. Just over a week after Ethan’s death, football star Tim Tebow tweeted, “Please join me in praying for the family of Ethan Hallmark. Ethan was a true inspiration and friend! #W15H” (https://twitter.com/TimTebow/status/518909055721824256).

In May 2014 I am Second noticed Ethan’s courage and faith in the face of difficulty and began documenting his story for a film to release Oct. 28 titled “Many are the Wonders, The Second Story of Ethan Hallmark.”

“Many are the Wonders” captures a unique glimpse into the lives of the Hallmark family and their entire community of Midlothian as they face and overcome the darkest moments of the disease together with a united and inspirational hope.

“Obviously I want to beat this disease but I’m not going to be that sad if I don’t,” said Ethan in the film. “Of course I don’t want to die. Who does? But it’s not really my plan … even though my cancer’s been a lot of bad stuff, it’s been a lot of good stuff, too. I met friends I would have never met. I’ve grown closer to God; my family has.”

EthanHallmark2Maynard has brought to light questions about death and pain as an advocate for access to death with dignity in California and nationwide. In “Many are the Wonders,” Ethan and his parents Rachel and Matt directly address many of these life questions that are currently being discussed in the media, as well as the raw questions about our humanity and the suffering and sorrow all people face.

“You have these moments where you ask God, ‘Why? Why my son? How can a loving and omnipotent God allow a kid who is nine years old to go through this suffering?’” said Ethan’s dad, Matt. “God answered me in that moment. It was a moment that was crystal clear.“

The “Many are the Wonders” trailer is available to watch now at www.iamsecond.com/ethanhallmark. The full film will be available beginning Oct. 28 at http://www.iamsecond.com.

I am Second is a storytelling movement that intimately reveals the raw struggles, transformations, and triumphs of people from all walks of life. As the creator of over 100 films since 2008, I Am Second has impacted millions of people around the world through authentic stories well told. The website iamsecond.com and its Spanish counterpart yosoysegundo.com feature stories of hope and transformation.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: To obtain sneak-preview clips of “Many Are the Wonders,” contact Kristin Cole at 972.267.1111 or Kristin@alarryross.com. More info about I am Second can be found at http://alarryross.com/newsroom/i-am-second-newsroom-home/