Alicia Parlette, 28, copy editor who wrote about her cancer for the San Francisco Chronicle


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Writing about those who die much too young is always one of the harder assignments. Reading about them isn’t much easier. With a silent nod to Alicia Parlette’s inner strength, I read the San Francisco Chronicle’s obituary for one of their own. Parlette, a copy editor who was diagnosed with a rare cancer at 23, died Thursday. She was 28.

She wrote about her struggle with the illness in a 17-part Chronicle series called “Alicia’s Story.” In an early installment, she observed:


If I get through this, this story will help me remember the important moments along the way, the details, the dizzying emotions. And, in the worst of all circumstances, if I go through this life-changing ordeal and my body just wears out and I die, I will die a writer. The one thing I’ve always wanted to be.

Her heart-breaking words reminded me of Mary Herczog, a freelance writer who poignantly, and often humorously, chronicled her struggle with breast cancer in a nine-part series for The Times. Diagnosed with cancer at 33, Herczog died in February at 45.

-- Valerie J. Nelson