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Lauren Terrazzano, 39, Wrote About Having Cancer

Garden City, N.Y.- Lauren Terrazzano, a Newsday reporter who chronicled her three-year bout with lung cancer, has died. She was only 39.

Terrazzano died Tuesday night at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.

Newsday staffers learned of her death Wednesday in a letter from editor John Mancini.

“She was well-loved by her many friends and colleagues in the newsroom and a formidable presence in the lives of the people in the communities she covered,” Mancini said.

Described by colleagues as a tenacious, hard-nosed street reporter, Terrazzano covered a variety of beats, most recently as a child welfare/social services reporter. She began writing the column, “Life, With Cancer,” in October 2006.

She wrote about the inappropriate things people say to cancer patients because they don’t know what else to say, and about breaking the myth that people with cancer are heroes “when really we’re just like everyone else.”

“My goal was to tackle the taboo subjects of the disease that the mainstream media often fails to do,” she told the Associated Press. “We so often cover the news aspects of cancer: the scientific breakthrough or even the sob story, yet there are so many other avenues that go unexplored.”

Terrazzano had smoked off-and-on for about five years before her September 2004 cancer diagnosis, rarely enough that she said her oncologists considered her a nonsmoker.

About 20 percent of women diagnosed with lung cancer are not smokers but are exposed to secondhand smoke within their communities.

Terrazzano’s column won praise from other cancer patients as well as professional honors.

She won the top prize in the science/health reporting category of a contest run by the Silurians, the oldest press club in the United States.

“Lauren did not go quietly,” Mancini said.

Source: wire reports