Remembered Hero - Halifax
Throughout his life, Michael Cobden was a healthy, active person. As a child he played many sports including rugby, soccer, track and field, tennis and golf, and even into his early 70s he could often be found with his wife Jane on long, brisk walks through Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, slowed only by his dog Pepper’s independent agenda.
In the summer of 2014, at age 74, routine annual bloodwork revealed changes in his red and white blood cells, despite no symptoms. He was referred to a hematologist who diagnosed him with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a type of blood cancer, and told the average life expectancy for someone with this form of the disease was just over a year.
He started chemotherapy immediately at the Medical Day Unit in the Victoria General Hospital in Halifax, and approached the treatment matter-of-factly and with (mostly) good humour — his spirits regularly buoyed by the wise, professional and equally good-humoured nurses in the unit. Over the course of some 250 treatments, he bonded with these extraordinary caregivers who were amazed by his longevity and charmed by his personality and good looks.
Even as his energy waned and he came to dread the painful seven-day cycles of treatment each month, the nurses always lifted his spirits, and he theirs. Throughout, he remained a voracious reader, opinionated follower of current events, skilled bridge player, proud father and grandfather and a man deeply in love with his wife.
Sadly, in September 2017 he developed Acute Myeloid Leukemia, rendering the treatments that had both tormented him and kept him alive less and less effective, until he made the decision to finally stop them. He died three months later, outliving the timeline of his prognosis by 300%. Despite the length of his illness and his serenity throughout — or perhaps because of these — his death still came as a sad shock to many.
Until his end, he remained calm and pragmatic about his fate, even making his family promise that his death would not be described as “a courageous battle,” but rather the peaceful end to a fulsome life. “You know those bucket lists that people always talk about,” he said just weeks before his death, “I never had a list and I have no empty buckets. I’ve done all I wanted to do, and I have no regrets.” His peace became his family’s peace, lighting their nights for ever more.