Leroy Sievers, a veteran broadcast journalist, former executive producer of ABC News' "Nightline" and the author of a popular and candid daily blog about his battle with cancer, "My Cancer," has died at age 53.
Sievers was an award-winning television producer who reported from nearly every major war and natural disaster in his nearly three decades in the business.
He was the executive producer of "Nightline" from 2000-2005, embedding with Ted Koppel with the Army's Third Infantry Division during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Sievers felt strongly about reporting on the work and sacrifice of American servicemen and women. It was Sievers who proposed that "Nightline" devote the entire program to reading the names of the men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan on Memorial Day weekend in 2004, a program simply titled "The Fallen," that generated controversy and even boycott during those early months of the war.
But despite his many accomplishments as a television producer, it was Sievers' writing about his battle with colon cancer that many of his colleagues and friends believe is his greatest legacy.
When his colorectal cancer, first diagnosed in 2001, returned with a terminal diagnosis in late 2005, Sievers began writing about the experience. In a daily blog published on npr.org, weekly podcasts and occassional radio commentaries on NPR's "Morning Edition," Sievers spoke wth startling honesty about living with a cancer that he knew would one day take his life.
But with the strength and stubborness that were his hallmark as a journalist, Sievers defied the medical odds.
First told by doctors he may have only six months to live, Sievers endured a battery of often painful and experimental treatments and procedures, including two brain surgeries, three lengthy back surgeries, multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and radiofrequency ablation.
Each of Sievers' blog entries began with a simple statement of purpose, "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."
Sievers' blog quickly generated a virtual community of fellow patients, caregivers and, ultimately, friends, most of whom Sievers never met.
When he blogged earlier this summer about the devastating news that the cancer had spread widely to multiple organs, nearly 400 readers posted messages of support to Sievers in the next 24 hours.
And Friday, when his wife, journalist Laurie Singer, wrote the blog for Sievers, indicating the final hours of his battle with cancer were near, the posts in response from the virtual community were intensely personal:
"His grace and humor in the face of this cancer has been an inspiration to me," wrote one.
" He changed my life and my outlook that first day I heard him on NPR. I have been here ever since," wrote another.