The obituary of a Canadian woman named Ellen Maud Bennett is making headlines as her dying wish was to relay a message about fat-shaming medical professionals.
According to Inside Edition, Bennett was 64-years-old when she died of terminal cancer in May of this year. Medical professionals told her she had just days left to live after an inoperable tumor was discovered. Instead of spending her last few days of life being “made comfortable” by doctors in a hospital bed, Ellen opted to enjoy great food, humor, flowers, and her family.
Ellen, however, did have one dying wish. She wanted her death to mean something to other “women of size.” She wanted plus size women to advocate for themselves and their health instead of letting medical professionals shrug off their problems as a need to lose weight without looking any deeper.
“A final message Ellen wanted to share was about the fat shaming she endured from the medical profession,” her obituary explained.
“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.”
Originally posted on July 14, people have continued to reflect and connect with her obituary. The guest book of the obituary contains tons of stories of individuals who also shared fat-shaming experiences from within the medical industry.
“My mother spent five years seeing doctors for her pain and weakness and got the same treatment as Ellen until she finally found a doctor open enough to discover her autoimmune disease. Thank you Ellen for your words and your message,” one person commented.
— Yahoo Canada (@YahooCanada) July 30, 2018
“I am sorry to hear about Ellen’s passing,” a second person commented. “I didn’t know her, but her thoughts on the medical professions bias towards overweight woman rang true. My mom passed in 2015 and often expressed some of the same sentiments to me about the medical profession and herself. I can’t help but wonder that had my mom felt supported and loved by anyone in the medical profession that she might have diagnosed her condition sooner.”
Many of the comments questioned whether Ellen – and other individuals who have experienced fat-shaming – could have received treatment and lived a longer life if they had been embraced by medical professionals with compassion instead of shame.
OAC is saddened to hear of Ellen's passing and her obituary serving as a reminder that #weightbias in healthcare can be detrimental. If you feel as though you are not being heard, you are not alone. Your weight/size should never define your healthcare. https://t.co/AWwP4ATIRC
— OAC (@ObesityAction) August 1, 2018
“This could be me,” one individual exclaimed sharing the obituary on Twitter.
According to a press release by the American Psychological Association, individuals who are overweight are 1.65 times more likely to receive a misdiagnosis from a doctor. Some commonly overlooked conditions in individuals who are overweight include endocarditis, ischemic bowel disease, and lung carcinoma.
Ultimately, Ellen Maud Bennett’s dying wish was that people of all shapes and sizes were entitled to the same respect for their health and well-being.