Ellen Maud Bennett from Newfoundland, Canada was diagnosed with cancer that was inoperable and given only days to live. In response to her diagnosis, Bennett made sure that her family did her obituary perfectly.
Published in Victoria Times Colonist, Bennett’s family stated:
This photo was taken one week before her death. She chose it for her obituary because as she said, “I look so good for someone almost dead!” Her brief time diagnosed with inoperable cancer gave her mere days to live. She chose to fill these days with humour, love, death bed edicts and exacting demands.
Clearly, Bennett had a great sense of humor and personality. But, she also had some powerful words to share with people who read her obituary. Bennett stated that she had a hard time with doctors due to her weight.
A final message Ellen wanted to share was about the fat shaming she endured from the medical profession. Over the past few years of feeling unwell she sought out medical intervention and no one offered any support or suggestions beyond weight loss. Ellen’s dying wish was that women of size make her death matter by advocating strongly for their health and not accepting that fat is the only relevant health issue.
While it is not stated what exactly happened with Bennett and doctors, it is an eye-opening realization to see that even the medical industry does fat-shame patients when they are complaining about other ailments.
People online were incredibly grateful that Bennett used her final words to advocate for those who feel jaded by the system and who are overlooked by medical professionals.
You are amazing and have lit a fire that will not be extinguished any time soon. Thank you for advocating for yourself and for us. Your amazing legacy shall live on
I am so sorry for your loss. Ellen was obviously a beautiful soul! Thank you Ellen for your message about fat shaming. I blamed my own cancer on my weight when I was first diagnosed. Rest in peace.
Amazing and Courageous. Rest in Peace, Ellen. And, may we together start seeing each other as worthy, whatever our size, shape, colour or gender.
Apparently, Bennett is not off when it comes to her stance. Just last year at the American Psychological Association annual convention, research stated that doctors were actually the “biggest offenders” when it came to making people feel bad about their weight.
Joan Chrisler, PhD, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College said:
Studies show that the most common source of fat shaming is family members, and after family comes doctors. I find that kind of upsetting, because these are the people who should have your best interests at heart, and instead they’re making you feel the worst.
The research presented states that there are a number of ways that doctors can make patients feel horrible about their weight, including: “disrespectful treatment, lectures about your weight, embarrassing comments, and a less thorough examination.”
Obviously, when you’re going to a doctor, you’re expecting an unbiased, professional opinion on your heath–not a judgmental diagnosis. It’s touching to see that Bennett used her final words to bring forth attention (and hopefully change) to an ongoing problem.