As the world mourns the passing of acclaimed journalist Leroy Sievers, it is the cancer community that feels the loss most acutely. During his battle with brain and lung cancer, Sievers documented the struggle with strength and quiet dignity in an NPR blog and weekly podcast called "My Cancer" that touched the lives of millions facing such challenges.
Sievers, who died over the weekend at age 53, had successfully fought a bout with colon cancer discovered in 2001. But when the cancer returned in 2005, the diagnosis was terminal. Sievers was given a worst-case scenario of six months to live - and went on to fight valiantly for nearly three years.
For decades, Sievers had been a renowned television journalist. He covered stories for CBS and ABC in dangerous regions such as Rwanda and Kosovo with wit and passion. He didn't even let his initial cancer diagnosis slow him down - by 2003, he and Ted Koppel headed to Baghdad with the 3rd Infantry Division. He later produced the controversial Nightline episode tribute to "The Fallen" of Iraq and Afghanistan. Sievers won 12 national news Emmys.
But it was his final project that brought him into the hearts and spirits of cancer patients and their loved ones. He wrote candidly about facing issues brought on by the disease: from practical questions such as when to accept hospice care, to the grief experienced by one's caregivers.
"It takes courage to get through life," Sievers wrote in a 2006 commentary discussing his diagnosis, going on to add, "I'm not spending my time thinking why me, though. I don't have the time."
By sharing his world with us, Sievers used the time he had with the utmost of grace and compassion. And while cancer ultimately took his life, Sievers remains an inspiration and beacon of hope for all who have suffered from this disease, and their loved ones.