Leroy Sievers, Elizabeth Edwards: Life With Cancer

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Leroy Sievers Photo Link

Leroy Sievers has been a journalist for more than 25 years. He worked at ABC News' Nightline for 14 years and at CBS News before that. During his career, he covered more than a dozen wars. He was an embedded journalist with Ted Koppel during the invasion of Iraq. The Discovery Channel hide caption

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Elizabeth Edwards Photo Link

Elizabeth Edwards announced at a news conference in March 2007 that her cancer, which had been diagnosed in the final weeks of the 2004 presidential campaign, had returned and was this time incurable. J.D. Pooley/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Leroy Sievers covered wars and ethnic conflicts in more than a dozen countries. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002, had surgery and was clean for four years.

Then doctors found a brain tumor and lung cancer. They told Sievers he had six months to live. That's when Sievers began the fight of — and for — his life. It's a battle he has chronicled for two years through commentaries on Morning Edition, Web podcasts and on his daily My Cancer blog on NPR.org.

Sievers speaks with friend and Talk of the Nation guest host Ted Koppel about his chronicles of that fight. Elizabeth Edwards, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, joins the conversation.

Edwards, wife of former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.

You can get a recap of Sievers' live chat with listeners at My Cancer.

My Cancer, 2 Years Later

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When Leroy Sievers started the My Cancer blog, he thought he had just six months to live. Two years later, he's still writing entries every day. Above, Sievers speaks with Dr. Christos Georgiades at Johns Hopkins Hospital in March 2007. Tyrone Turner hide caption

itoggle caption Tyrone Turner
Leroy Sievers

Leroy Sievers speaks with Dr. Christos Georgiades at Johns Hopkins Hospital in March 2007.

Tyrone Turner

This spring, Leroy Sievers asked members of his blog community to finish the sentence: "My cancer ..." hide caption

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Two years ago, it seemed like a pretty simple idea. Write something each day about cancer. So we started the My Cancer blog. I don't think any of us really knew what to expect.

After all, I wasn't even supposed to be around to work on it. Six months earlier, doctors had found a brain tumor. A doctor looked me in the eye and said three months, maybe six.

Well, two years later, I'm still here. That first tumor is gone. But it's been replaced by others.

And the blog has taken on a life of its own. It has become a place of refuge, a rest stop on the long, difficult road that is cancer.

We have made friends and lost friends on the blog. We have learned things from each other, things we never thought we'd need to know.

With My Cancer turning two years old, I had expected to write a commentary that would be a celebration. But life in cancer world doesn't always go the way we expect.

The cancer attacked my spine. Just like those old advertisements, I fell but couldn't get up.

That meant surgery, another surgery, an infection that almost killed me, and one more surgery after that.

We finally thought the battle over my spine was winding down. It was time for routine scans. Time to see what had happened while we were fixated on my spine.

For some reason, I felt optimistic.

I was wrong.

My last scans showed that my cancer has exploded. New tumors in my brain, liver, lungs, bones. Well, you get the idea.

So I've been going through the process of "getting my affairs in order." Doing all the paperwork, all the legal things you need to do.

No one really knows what the next step will be, how my disease will play out. But we know it's serious.

I had radiation on my brain and my pelvis for pain relief. That's about all I can do. From here on, we're going to be worried about comfort, about relieving the worst side effects.

So this anniversary has been pretty stressful. But if I've learned anything over the last two years, it's that life with cancer is tough.

I've learned something far more important, too. No matter what happens, we're all in this together.

None of us walks this road alone.

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