After a special "Last Dance" prom and a final summer with her mom, 14-year-old Jerika Bolen now has the other thing she wished for: an end to her constant and unbearable pain. The Wisconsin teen, whose decision to end treatment for Type 2 spinal muscular atrophy and stop using a ventilator fueled a right-to-die debate, passed away in hospice care early Thursday, WBAY reports. Bolen's condition, which destroyed muscle and nerve cells, was incurable and would have steadily worsened. By the end, she was only able to move her head and her hands, USA Today reports. More than 1,000 people, including YouTube music star Richie Giese, attended Bolen's "Last Dance" in July.
"I love her with every cell of me, and I am happy she is no longer suffering and thankful for all she has given me," says Jerika's mother, nurse Jen Bolen. She says she vowed very early on to give her daughter the best life possible—and though it was a struggle, she was able to stand behind her daughter's decision to end her suffering. "My only words to anyone questioning this is that I love that girl with every cell in my being and no one in their right mind would let someone suffer like she was," she says. Disability rights groups had sought to intervene, arguing that Jerika was too young to make this kind of decision. (Read more right to die stories.)