Journalist Alicia Parlette was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, a rare form of sarcoma that is uncurable. Instead of sinking into dispair or seeking avoidance by covering other topics, she began a series of articles for the San Francisco Chronicle discussing with total frankness her feelings, trials and insights as she fought through chemotherapy and came to terms with her fate. The first series of installments earned her the Laxalt Distinguished Writer Award.
By the early 2007 her cancer had progressed to the point that she could no longer work, but she continued to record her experiences in a blog until August 2007 when, exhausted and feeling she had said all that could be said, she retired from writing and took up volunteering to spend time with other cancer victims. She also found the strength and optimism to rescue a homeless dog, to make friends with people all over the world, and most wonderfully of all to fall in love.
A widely acclaimed collection of her writings was published as a book called Alicia’s Story, now out of print. An new, expanded version including her blog entries is being prepared. She created a remarkable legacy by any measure with a published book and a significant journalism award, but she left us something much more; a profile in strength and honesty, a bar set high for courage and determination to which we can all aspire.
Parlette died Thursday, April 24, 2010, in hospice care at UC San Francisco Medical Center. She was largely pain-free and surrounded by family and friends, who had been taking turns reading aloud her favorite book, To Kill A Mockingbird. She slipped away quietly twenty minutes after hearing the book’s final words. Alicia Rose Parlette was 28 years old.