Alicia's Story: Writing About Cancer

Alicia Parlette i i

Alicia Parlette was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and a diary of her battle is now a seven-part series of reports. Penni Gladstone, San Francisco Chronicle hide caption

itoggle caption Penni Gladstone, San Francisco Chronicle
Alicia Parlette

Alicia Parlette was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and a diary of her battle is now a seven-part series of reports.

Penni Gladstone, San Francisco Chronicle
Bernadette Fay, a Friday section editor, talks with Alicia Parlette i i

Bernadette Fay, a Friday section editor, talks with Alicia Parlette at her desk at the San Francisco Chronicle. Penni Gladstone, San Francisco Chronicle hide caption

itoggle caption Penni Gladstone, San Francisco Chronicle
Bernadette Fay, a Friday section editor, talks with Alicia Parlette

Bernadette Fay, a Friday section editor, talks with Alicia Parlette at her desk at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Penni Gladstone, San Francisco Chronicle
Alicia Parlette and her mom Pam in 1982. i i

A 1982 photo of Alicia Parlette held by her mom Pam, who died of breast cancer three years ago. Courtesy Alicia Parlette hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Alicia Parlette
Alicia Parlette and her mom Pam in 1982.

A 1982 photo of Alicia Parlette held by her mom Pam, who died of breast cancer three years ago.

Courtesy Alicia Parlette

A young newspaper editor's battle with cancer is now the subject of a series of reports in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

Alicia Rose Parlette was a copy editor at the Chronicle when three months ago her doctor told her she had a rare, difficult-to-treat form of cancer called alveolar soft part sarcoma. Parlette didn't know much about that specific form of cancer, but was all too familiar with the disease in general. Her own mother died of breast cancer three years ago.

Parlette's cancer soon spread from her hip to her breasts and lungs. Every day seemed to bring some new, even worse news. Parlette, who'd always wanted to be a writer, began jotting down her feelings and sharing them in e-mails...

One of those e-mails found its way to Robert Rosenthal, managing editor of the Chronicle. He was impressed with her writing and asked her if she would write her story for publication in the paper.

For Parlette, capturing her feelings and experiences was more than a way to cope with all the doctor's appointments and medical tests — it was the answer to a dream to be a writer "right at the time when my world is upended," she says.

The series is garnering rave reviews for its heartfelt and deeply personal musings on mortality and life's balance of sorrow and joy. Parlette was just offered a full-time job at the Chronicle. Her future may be uncertain, but one lifelong wish has already been fulfilled.

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