The legacy of a Canadian woman who died from cancer continues to live on through the words of her self-penned obituary, which is being read by people around the world.
“35 years may not seem long, but damn it was good!” Bailey Matheson started the sentimental missive where she thanked friends and family for their support through her last few years.
In January 2017, Ms Matheson was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that affects smooth muscle tissue, and later found out it was terminal.
But when she was told that she only had two years left to live, the woman decided to make the most of that time, which meant forgoing any treatment.
“To my parents, thank you for supporting me and my decisions throughout my life,” the only child wrote.
“My parents gave me the greatest gift of supporting my decisions with not going through chemo and just letting me live the rest of my life the way I believed it should be.
“I know how hard that must have been watching me stop treatment and letting nature take its course.”
It was not only her parents that were by her side.
She gave heartfelt thanks to her friends, who she often refers to as her chosen family, as well as her boyfriend, Brent Andrews, who she had met on a dating app just three months prior to her devastating diagnosis.
“You had no idea what you were getting yourself into when you swiped right that day,” Ms Matheson joked.
‘It’s her body and her life’
But Ms Matheson’s best friend Julie Carrigan told Yahoo Lifestyle the people in the 35-year-old woman’s life never felt their friend’s diagnosis was a burden.
Instead they all felt lucky to have been a part of her journey.
“Her deciding not to go through with treatment was completely her decision, because it’s her body and her life,” Ms Carrigan said.
“She wasn’t giving up by not doing treatments, she was creating a better quality of life for herself. Her happiness was the most important thing.”
According to Ms Carrigan, Ms Matheson’s happiness had long come from travelling, which is what she set out to do in the time that she had left.
With her loved ones by her side, Ms Matheson went to 13 countries – including Portugal, Spain, Greece, Croatia and Ireland.
She even did a group girls trip to Chicago with 13 of her closest friends.
“We all got heart tattoos while we were there, that Bailey drew, so we would always have her heart with us wherever we go,” Ms Carrigan said.
For Ms Matheson, these experiences seemed to make her feel at ease when the rest of her life was no longer in her control.
“I never thought I could love my friends more than I did but going through this and having your unconditional love and support you have made something that is normally so hard, more bearable and peaceful,” she wrote.
Just a few days after Ms Matheson’s passing on April 5, Mr Andrews posted a sweet tribute to his girlfriend of nearly three years on his Facebook page with a photo from one of their special trips.
And although he wrote Ms Matheson “would be cringing at all of the attention”, he and Ms Carrigan agreed the viral recognition had been amazing and humbling.
“She was one of the most caring, genuine, selfless people I had the honour of knowing,” Ms Carrigan said.
“I think I can speak for all that love her when I say we aren’t surprised that she would touch so many across the world with her words that are straight from her heart.”
As for how Ms Carrigan and friends will continue to honour Matheson’s legacy, her friend said she would be taking Ms Matheson’s advice when she wrote: “Don’t take the small stuff so seriously and live a little.”
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