A 43-year-old father of four is going viral for writing his own obituary following six years of treatment for cancer. The Marlborough, Connecticut resident took the opportunity to talk about his life, some of his fondest memories, some of the biggest life lessons he has learned, and things he hopes for in the future.
Of all the things Orus Coffield wrote about, it was his viewpoint on how cancer should be talked about and viewed by the general public that’s gaining the most attention. He doesn’t want people to look at cancer as a ‘battle’ because cancer patients don’t have much control over the impact it has on their specific body.
“A perk of writing my own obituary is that I get the last word and it is this: I never want my death due to cancer to be discussed in the style of ‘he lost his battle’ or ‘after a long valiant fight’ or any other similar language. Cancer isn’t an invader like a foreign virus or bacterium,” he wrote in his touching obituary.
“Cancer is my own body’s DNA gone haywire. Who am I fighting against? My own body? Or maybe my body is a battlefield, in which case who is the enemy? And now that I have died due to cancer does this mean I didn’t fight hard enough or lacked the will to live? Of course not,” the obituary continued.
In the summer of 2016, Orus Coffield was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer – myxoid liposarcoma. He explained how he spent six years of his life undergoing various different treatments. Despite having a fair share of hopeful moments, he was faced with the ‘brutal truth that my body could no longer carry on.’
“This isn’t how I expected my final chapter would be written. I had dreams just like anyone else of raising my kids, being a partner to my spouse for years to come, and enjoying growing old surrounded by the people I love,” he wrote, adding he has plenty to be grateful for over the past 43 years of living.
Coffield also shared some of the biggest lessons he has learned in his life, opting to keep it simple. “Be kind, be honest, and be helpful. If any words we say or actions we take can’t meet those criteria then they are best left unsaid and undone,” the obituary read. Simple words, but they hit home for a lot of people.
Will Orus Coffield’s Obituary Change the Way We Talk About Cancer?
Orus Coffield’s unique obituary is one that could change the way we talk about cancer and cancer patients. Undergoing treatment for cancer is often viewed as a ‘battle’ or ‘fight,’ but it’s not like most battles or fights – the smartest won’t always prevail and the strongest aren’t always going to win.
“It’s something that outsmarts the smartest doctors, the smartest scientists. So, this idea that someone didn’t fight hard enough, I think, is an insult because there’s nothing that you can do. Cancer treatment is luck,” said Annie Bond, a 33-year-old metastatic breast cancer patient who was diagnosed at just 26.
She talked about the ‘false narrative’ that’s created when calling someone the ‘bigger fighter’ for overcoming the disease – marginalizing those that succumbed to the disease, usually at no fault of their own. “There’s no control in cancer,” she added, which is the type of dialogue we need to start promoting.
“It’s an unpredictable disease that is, in my opinion, the ultimately equalizer because it doesn’t care how good of a person you are, how much money you have, what your political affiliation is, if you’re a child,” Bond continued. We never know when cancer will come knocking or who’s door it will show up to next.
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