Life with Cancer tells the story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lauren Terrazzano, who spent her career reporting on a variety of Long Island community and societal issues for Newsday. The subjects she wrote about most frequently included the homeless problem, care for the elderly, and in particular child welfare. Lauren was the recipient of the prestigious Anna Quindlen Awards for Excellence in Journalism in Behalf of Children and Families.
In August, 2004, she was diagnosed with nonsmoking-related lung cancer at age 36. Lauren, who had always been a fighter for other people’s causes, suddenly found herself fighting for her life. She endured a couple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as well as surgery to remove a lung. After a brief remission, the cancer returned and Lauren spent the last eight months of her life chronicling her personal battle with the disease in her weekly column, titled, “Life, with Cancer.”
Her honesty in her writing on this subject was what made the column so compelling as she revealed many substantive issues about lung cancer and its increasing incidence rate among women. Lauren believed lung cancer to be a genuine women’s health issue. Statistically, the disease kills 170,000 women each year, a number that eclipses the collective annual deaths of victims of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers combined. While the correlation between cancer and smoking is no longer in debate, what’s not understood is why more than 10% of the time lung cancer patients have never smoked, and for women diagnosed with lung cancer it is upward of 20%. She also questioned why women who did smoke were more prone to lung cancer than men, and concerned herself with the stigma, prejudices and lack of compassion that all lung cancer patients experience. She advocated for increased lung cancer awareness and the need for a celebrity spokesperson to help increase donation dollars for further research and prevention.
While the rest of the world followed Lauren’s medical progress in Newsday, her mother and father stood by their only child, hoping for a miracle. Throughout her illness, Lauren kept her hope as well as her sense of humor right up until the end, which came on May 15, 2007. Lauren Terrazzano succumbed to the disease, but she left behind a legacy, in her life and her writing, that lives on to enlighten and inspire.
IN HER OWN WORDS
A month before her passing, April 2007, Lauren was interviewed on NPR. Click here to listen.