Webby Awards Submission

Project: NPR Blog: My Cancer

Category: Websites - Blogs, Personal

Highlights

After that day, your life is never the same.'That day' is the day the doctor tells you, 'You have cancer.'  Every one of us knows someone who's had to face that news. It's scary, it's sad. But it's still life, and it's a life worth living. 'My Cancer' is a daily account of my life and my fight with cancer."

That's how Leroy Sievers began his My Cancer blog just over  a year ago. Leroy is a former war correspondent and executive producer of Nightline. His blog is a newsman's daily dispatch from a very different type of battle. But in reporting the twists and turns of his own disease -- diagnoses, treatments, the dark nights, the coping strategies -- Leroy does more than tell one man's story. As his readers constantly attest in their blog comments, Leroy's unflinching meditations on his mortality have helped thousands name their fears and share a sense that someone understands. As one woman put it:

"My husband just turned to me and asked what's wrong. I told him that I read your blog and you expressed exactly what I am feeling today. He said 'is it good that it makes you cry?' As I sit here crying all I can say is YES it's good. It's wonderful to have someone know exactly how I feel. …Yes, I'm tired too Leroy. But I have to go get in the shower and get dressed so I'm not late for my radiation appointment. If you don't mind, I'm going to take you with me today. I need the support."

Please take time to read some of the user comments to Leroy's posts. The idea of "community" is not abstract on this blog. Readers check up on one another and on Leroy. They offer encouragement and hard-won lessons learned  that range from the very practical ("The Little Things That Make It Easier") to the spiritual and motivational  ("The Toughest Kids on the Block"). Some comments are long, some are very thoughtful. All seem to come straight from the heart.

In addition to providing a service to the cancer community, My Cancer illuminates this "alternative reality," as Leroy calls it, for the rest of us. It's worth saying, for the record, that Leroy couldn't inspire his readers the way he does if he weren't a superb writer. Each day's entry reads more like a polished mini-column than a typical blog post. Leroy's tone of forthright inquiry and detached self-observation never strays into the preachy or melodramatic, despite the depth of his themes.

“I was sitting in the radiation waiting room yesterday morning….At 51, I was one of the younger patients. And then one of the men said, 'There's a child in there.' The big, lead door had opened and he could see into the treatment room. Immediately, everything changed. The room got sort of quiet; people even lowered their voices."

To maximize impact, participation and reach, My Cancer is a completely cross-platform project. In addition to his blogging (which is obviously Web-only), Leroy voices a podcast every Monday. Once a month, that audio commentary is broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition. My Cancer pages are viewed 150,000 times every month. The podcast is downloaded 10,000 times per month. To date, the blog has received almost  20,000 comments. Recently, Ted Koppel made a documentary about Leroy and My Cancer for the Discovery Channel. You can see and hear an article about that documentary on NPR.org.

Leroy posts to My Cancer every weekday, whether he's sick, undergoing treatment or on vacation. He's called this project the most meaningful of what has been a long and very eventful career.  In reading his posts, one can't escape the feeling that this is a man who has something important share and possibly limited time to share it. Please join me in recognizing this extraordinary commitment, talent and service to community by honoring Leroy with a Webby for "Blogs, Personal."

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