When Brittany Maynard chose to end her fight against terminal cancer this weekend, "she left this world with zero regrets on time spent, places been, or people she loved in her 29 years," her obituary reads. Reports today offer a closer look at Maynard's life before she became the face of the Death With Dignity movement—a life that saw her ice climbing and scuba diving her way around the world. As a kid, "she asked to do a lot of things and she generally excelled at all of them," her mother, Debbie Ziegler, tells People. Maynard graduated from UC Berkeley before getting a master's in education. "She was always very driven to give back to the world," says Ziegler.
Months spent teaching in Nepali orphanages "forever changed her life and perspective on childhood, happiness, privilege, and outcomes." In fact, doing so had a deep effect on her recent experience: "She has said before that this illness would have been a lot harder had she not seen the things she saw, because she would have felt very, very sorry for herself," Ziegler notes. Maynard's worldwide exploration took her from Vietnam to Ecuador to the summit of Kilimanjaro. On the home front, she was married in 2012 to her "best friend," Daniel Diaz, and she had two dogs that she loved "like family"; she also worked to find homes for other canines. Among her favorite sayings: "Speak your own truth, even when your voice shakes." Read more on Maynard's final moments.