Cancer Patient’s Obituary Highlights How Even Doctors Fat-Shame Women

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“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.”

 

A Canadian woman who lost her life in May 2018 after battling with cancer used her obituary to advocate against the phenomenon of fat-shaming in medical profession.

64-year-old Ellen Maud Bennett was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and was told she only has a few days to live. Days later she died in the west coast city of Victoria in Canada. Her obituary was released recently to Times Colonist newspaper which is now going viral.

Her obituary raised the issue of how she was treated by doctors whenever she went to a hospital to seek medical help. Bennett wrote that whenever she complained about feeling unwell, she was always told by doctors to lose 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,” it read.

The obituary added, “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.”

The issue that the 64-year-old’s obituary raised is rampant in our society and studies prove fat-shaming by doctors does exist. Not only does it have a physical impact on the patient’s health but also affects their mental state of health.

“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,” said Joan Chrisler, a psychology professor at Connecticut College. 

Moreover, the process of fat-shaming has lead to an extent that in many cases it results in missing diagnoses of a disease or even leads to incorrect diagnoses. It is also noted that people who are overweight are reluctant to go to doctors for medical help because they always end up getting told to lose weight.

Bennett’s obituary caused a stir on social media where people began sharing their stories and how they have been treated the same because of the size of their body.

“It wasn’t until I started taking interest in my sister’s health as an adult and took her to my doctor that we found she had several ailments that had been untreated for years because doctors refused to treat her and kept telling her to lose weight first,” wrote a Twitter user.

Another one wrote, “My mother loathes going to the doctor because of the fat-shaming. She also had to stop going for walks because randos in passing cars would hurl abuse at her.”

 

 

Spotlight, Banner: Getty Images, PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images

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