7 Of The Most Inspiring Health Stories Of 2014


(Photo: AP/Maynard Family)

When 29-year-old Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a brain tumor that doctors told her would painfully end her life in a matter of months, she uprooted her family and moved from California to Oregon. The reason: access to the state’s Death with Dignity Act, which allows terminally ill patients to choose to end their lives instead of suffering. In her final months, Maynard released heartfelt videos bringing attention to her story, her choices, and Death with Dignity — something she argued should be an option for anyone who is eligible. In a CNN opinion piece, she wrote: “I would not tell anyone else that he or she should choose death with dignity. My question is: Who has the right to tell me that I don’t deserve this choice?”

4. CVS stops selling cigarettes. (Now what about everyone else?)


(Photo: Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

In September, CVS, the second-largest drugstore chain in the U.S., rocked headlines by quitting smoking itself and stopping the sale of tobacco products in all its stores nationwide. The company also officially changed its corporate name from CVS to CVS Health. CVS said selling these products to consumers directly contradicted the company’s healthy lifestyle mission and work with physicians, and it also launched a smoking cessation plan to help people quit. Industry experts hope that such a drastic move will have a ripple effect on other pharmacies.

Related: Smoking In U.S. Declines To All-Time Low

5. Meredith Vieira shares #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft.

(Photo: NBC Universal)

After the domestic violence case between Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice and his then-fiancée Janay Rice grabbed national headlines, the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft started trending on Twitter as many women fled to the social media platform to share their own personal experiences with domestic abuse. Meredith Vieira lent celeb power to the issue, sharing with millions her own honest experience with abuse, why she stayed, and finally why she left.

6. Miss Idaho Sierra Sandison proudly wears her insulin pump in competition.


(Photo: Susan Hessing Photography)

When Sierra Sandison, a contestant in this year’s Miss Idaho competition, walked the stage in July, something stood out: The 20-year-old — who has Type 1 diabetes — competed with her insulin pump attached to her bikini. Diabetes turned her life upside-down when she was diagnosed, Sandison explained in her blog. For years, she took insulin injections before competitions, before ultimately deciding to wear the pump during competition. Proudly displaying the device on stage garnered national headlines and a #‎showmeyourpump hashtag that brought in thousands of photos of people doing just that. On her blog, Sandison wrote: “The media often tells us this lie: if your appearance deviates in any way from cover girls, movie stars, super models, etc., it is a flaw and something is wrong with you.” She proved that’s simply not the case. 

7. A father with ALS fulfills his dream of walking his daughter down the aisle.


(Photo: Brian Hawkins)

Beyond the viral Ice Bucket Challenge Facebook videos and record-setting donations this year, one heartwarming ALS story in particular caught America’s eye — that of Augie Nieto. Neito is a health and fitness enthusiast and businessman from California who was diagnosed with ALS at age 47 — shortly before his daughter got engaged. Like any dad, he’d always looked forward to walking his daughter down the aisle. Unfortunately, ALS left him more or less paralyzed, and unable to speak or breathe on his own. The condition brought Nieto to a dark place — but he ultimately decided to change his mindset. He started rehab, turning back to his fitness roots. He got stronger. Eventually, strapped in a harness, he was able to walk his daughter down the aisle, proving that with motivation and hard work, no goal is unreachable.

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