"THIRTY-FIVE years may not seem long, but damn it was good!"
That was the opening line of one cancer patient's heartbreaking obituary that she wrote herself – giving her the chance to thank loved ones from beyond the grave.
Bailey Jean Matheson thanked her parents and boyfriend, and told friends she "cherished them more than anything" as an only child, considering them her brothers and sisters.
The 34-year-old, left the congregation with a poignant last message, to live life to the full – telling them, "don't sweat the small stuff".
Bailey, from Halifax, Canada was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer two years ago, but chose not to have chemo knowing her cancer was terminal.
While it could have prolonged her life, she chose to spend the time she had left living, and making memories with her loved ones.
Before she passed away, she penned her own obituary, which her family shared with the Cape Breton Post.
In it, she thanked her parents for supporting her decision to reject chemo, recognising how hard it was but calling it their "greatest gift" to her.
"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 wrote.
"My parents gave me the greatest gift if 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.
"I love you both even more for this."
An only child, Bailey said that she cherished her friendships "more than anything".
"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."
Bailey, who ran her own beauty business, ended the obit urging people to appreciate their own lives.
"Don't take the small stuff so seriously and live a little," she begged.
She even joked about her boyfriend who she met on Tinder months before her diagnosis.
"To my Brent… you had no idea what you were getting yourself into when you swiped right that day."
Bailey had been very fit and healthy until she started complaining of belly ache.
Doctors originally thought that it might have been caused by muscle or back problems but after she felt a lump in the left side of her abdomen, she then went for further testing.
A biopsy in January 2017 confirmed that she had leiomyosarcoma – a rare cancer that affects smooth muscle tissue.
Medics hoped to shrink the tumour with radiation but after treatment failed and surgery was deemed to be too risky, Bailey was given just two years to live.
Her boyfriend Brett Andrew said: "She was worried that those two years — if she was going through chemo — her quality of life during that time wouldn’t be very good, so she just went for it and did a lot of stuff that she really wanted to do."
Bailey spent her remaining time travelling and spending time with loved ones.
One of her best friends, Julie Carrigan, told Today that she ended up seeing her diagnosis as a "blessing in disguise".
"Most people just go every day and take it for granted. And when you get diagnosed with something like that, there's no taking it for granted anymore.
"You just do everything you want to do and say everything you want to say."
Bailey managed to visit 13 countries, including the US, Ireland, England, Norway, Croatia, Montenegro, St Lucia, Mexico, France, Morocco, Greece, Spain and Portugal.
She also got to see Coldplay – her favourite band – twice.
Bailey Jean Matheson's obituary in full
Thirty-five years may not seem long, but damn it was good!
To my parents, thank you for supporting me and my decisions throughout my life. I always remember my mom saying losing a child would be the hardest loss a parent could go through.
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.
I love you both even more for this. To my friends, being an only child I've always cherished my friendships more than anything because I've never had siblings of my own.
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.
Thank you and I love you all so much.
To my Brent, you came into my life just three months before my diagnosis.
You had no idea what you were getting yourself into when you swiped right that day.
I couldn't have asked for a better man to be by my side for all the adventures, appointments, laughs, cries and breakdowns.
You are an amazing person and anyone in your life is so fortunate to know you.
I love you beyond words. I am survived by my loving parents, Wendy (Foxwell) and Sandy (John Alexander) Matheson; my amazing and caring boyfriend, Brent Andrews and family; my wonderful pets, Rosella, Cat, Peyton (Boo Boo) and Harley; my great group of friends; my Aunt Sharon MacIntyre and family; my Aunt Paulette Novacco and family, and my Uncle Ted Foxwell and family.
I was predeceased by my maternal grandmother, Lillian Clark; paternal grandparents, Elsie (Matheson) MacKenzie and Alex Matheson. Thank you for all the support, donations, fundraisers, food, messages and calls over the past two years. It means the world to me.
A special thank you to my aunts, Sharon and Paulette, for being supportive and thank you to all my doctors, my palliative care team, all my VONs, my social worker, and East Coast Naturolpathic.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Melanies Way or Young Adults Cancer Canada. Details regarding the Celebration of Life will follow at a later date.
Don't take the small stuff so seriously and live a little.
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