Leroy Sievers: A Life Lived With Courage

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

For 25 years, journalist Leroy Sievers covered wars. But he is better known to his NPR audience through his blog and Morning Edition commentaries about his battle with colon cancer. His fight provided inspiration for the community he built up online. On Friday, Leroy Sievers died at the age of 53.


You're listening to Weekend Edition from NPR News. For 25 years, journalist Leroy Sievers covered wars. For CBS News and then ABC, he traveled to conflicts in Iraq, Rwanda, Somalia and El Salvador. But he's perhaps better known to NPR listeners for the battle he tracked over the last two and a half years, his own diagnosis with cancer.

LEROY SIEVERS: I don't have any great insight into death, but maybe I've learned something about life. It takes courage to get through life, the courage of doctors and nurses who can work magic with their hands, the courage of those keeping a lonely vigil at the bedside of a loved one, the courage of the ill fighting with everything they have not just to cheat death, but to live.

SMITH: Sievers told the story of his treatment in a series of commentaries on Morning Edition. Later, he wrote a daily blog for NPR called simply, My Cancer. On Friday, Leroy Sievers died from that disease. He was 53 years old. Last month on NPR, Sievers talked about what it was like to share not just his stories of sickness, but his entire life with the readers of the blog.

SIEVERS: The most important thing I think anyone can give someone with cancer is a little bit of normalcy. It doesn't always have to be about cancer. You know, talk about movies, talk about politics, talk about sports. Just something else is so welcome at times that - you know, our lives are not just the disease. That's not the only thing we are.

SMITH: Nearly 30,000 people left comments on Sievers' blog over the years. Hundreds more are adding their condolences this weekend on our Web site. My Cancer became a virtual support group, a community for people who were diagnosed with cancer or who had lost loved ones. Laurie Hurth(ph) had a fiance who died of the disease last year. She followed Sievers' blog every day.

Ms. LAURIE HURTH: It's heart-wrenching because I just know how many people on that blog site loved the man. I mean, he's touched so many lives. So it was very, very hard.

SMITH: Now, you never met him.

Ms. HURTH: I never have met him. No.

SMITH: Or talked to him?

Ms. HURTH: No.

SMITH: So, why was it you felt like you knew him?

Ms. HURTH: The way he wrote. I understood his disease. I understood the ravages of it. I'd seen it firsthand by what it did to my fiance, and it - for all of us, I mean, it just - it was painful to read, but yet it was - you'd find humor in it, in his word. It's just been the godsend for me.

SMITH: Sievers told NPR that of all his journalistic achievements, he was most proud of this blog and the community it created.

SIEVERS: I like to think that it's all of us together. It's not just me. I get as much from those 30,000 people and all the others out there as I hope they do from me. We're all in this together.

SMITH: You can read the words of Leroy Sievers and those who are remembering him today at his blog, My Cancer, on This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from