Obituaries are difficult to read at the best of times but a recent one published in The Chronicle Herald in Canada is even tougher – especially because it was written by a woman shortly before she lost her battle with cancer at the age of just 35.
Bailey Jean Matheson passed away earlier this month after fighting leiomyosarcoma for two-and-a-half years. Leiomyosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that impacts smooth muscle tissue and is commonly found in the abdomen. Matheson had been given just a year to live but survived a year-and-a-half longer than her original prognosis. She decided not to undergo chemotherapy.
“35 years may not seem long, but damn it was good,” she wrote, thanking her parents for always supporting her decisions. “I always remember my mom saying losing a child would be the hardest loss a parent could go through.”
Matheson explained she chose not to undergo chemotherapy to instead live her life the way she wanted to.
“I know how hard that must have been watching me stop treatment and letting nature take its course. I love you both even more for this,” she said.
As an only child, Matheson wrote about the importance of friendships and how her friends made what’s usually a difficult and scary time one that was “bearable” and “peaceful”.
She spoke of her partner, Brent Andrews, who she met online just three months before her diagnosis and looked back on the highs and lows of the relationship that followed.
“You are an amazing person and anyone in your life is so fortunate to know you,” she wrote. “I love you beyond words.”
In addition to family and friends, she paid tribute to her doctors, palliative care team and social workers. She also concluded with a special message to all the people reading her obituary.
“Don’t take the small stuff so seriously and live a little.”
Her close friend Natasha Brown paid tribute to Matheson on Facebook with a heartfelt tribute.
“You were always an inspiration to me from the day I met you…you lit up a room and had the most beautiful soul not to mention beauty,” she wrote. “Our little chats will be missed and your love of life will be a reminder of how it should be lived. I love you Bailey Matheson…always have and always will.”
It’s not the first time a person has penned their own obituary before their death. Geoffrey Turner, 66, from Latham in New York died in February from lung cancer and used his obituary in the Albany Times Union to warn others not to smoke.
“I was an idiot who made the same stupid decision, day-after-day, multiple times per day,” Turner wrote. “I was a smoker and even though I knew it may eventually kill me, I chose to deny the truth to myself.”
He added that the pain and suffering he caused his family was not worth the “satisfaction” he received from smoking.