Leroy Sievers is gone.
Those of us who have been reading his “My Cancer” blog over the past couple of years new this day was coming. Recently, it was clearly nearer than ever. Yet the shock of reading that he passed away suddenly this weekend still reverberates.
For those who live in “C World”, Leroy’s blog became more than just another person’s account of their cancer journey. For many, it became a community — where comments were left and exchanged that brought together many who were experiencing their own battle. Leroy was someone who clearly read people’s comments, as he’d often be inspired for his daily post by something someone else commented on the day before. When a long-time reader lost her battle, he wrote the next day not about his own experience, but her — and the impact she had clearly had on so many in the “My Cancer” community.
A few weeks ago Leroy appeared on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”, and followed his appearance with a live podcast. I think I asked some stupid question regarding how Leroy had dealt with health insurance issues (I must have been knee deep in fighting over some bill or another that day), but the other questions were shockingly forward: Was Leroy prepared to die, how did he want to spend his final days, did he have a “Do Not Resusitate” order, etc. Leroy never flinched, never waivered in giving an answer as direct and honest as the original question.
There are plenty of times that I feel like I don’t want to write about VB’s cancer any longer. When something happens that becomes a part of who you are against your will, there are times you’d just like to put it aside and forget that it ever happened. In those moments, however, I’ve often thought about Leroy, and his decision to get up every day and write something, anything, that would bear witness to his experience and the experiences of so many that did not have the platform for expression that he did as a reporter. Leroy’s expample inspired me to open up my computer and follow his lead.
We who live and fight and struggle against cancer have lost a great voice, one who dared to put out to the world the unfliching reality of this experience. May all of us who choose to tell our stories, in whatever way, continue to carry Leroy with us.