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Alicia Parlette, 28, copy editor who wrote about her cancer for the San Francisco Chronicle

Writing about those who die much too young is always one of the harder assignments. Reading about them isn’t much easier. With a silent nod to Alicia Parlette’s inner strength, I read the San Francisco Chronicle’s obituary for one of their own. Parlette, a copy editor who was diagnosed with a rare cancer at 23, died Thursday. She was 28.

She wrote about her struggle with the illness in a 17-part Chronicle series called “Alicia’s Story.” In an early installment, she observed:

 If I get through this, this story will help me remember the important moments along the way, the details, the dizzying emotions. And, in the worst of all circumstances, if I go through this life-changing ordeal and my body just wears out and I die, I will die a writer. The one thing I’ve always wanted to be.

Her heart-breaking words reminded me of Mary Herczog, a freelance writer who poignantly, and often humorously, chronicled her struggle with breast cancer in a nine-part series for The Times. Diagnosed with cancer at 33, Herczog died in February at 45.

-- Valerie J. Nelson

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