Sievers also had some thoughts on the matter, too. Realizing the comfort and companionship he gave readers, he once told Matazzoni, the NPR producer, that “My Cancer” was the most meaningful project of his career. Koppel saw it, too. Though Sievers’s spirits remained high during most of their calls—he jokingly questioned the wisdom of starting the seven-volume Harry Potter series—he didn’t always feel like writing. “There were many times when I think he did that blog only because he knew there were people counting on him,” says Koppel. “The reaction of readers was so touching and overwhelming that he thought it to be one of the major responsibilities of his life.” But in June 2006, two years before his disease overtook him, and before he would come to see the impact his blog would have, he issued a journalist’s call of defiance:

In the end, I may very well be best remembered as a cancer victim. That’s strange to me. I don’t think I like it very much. The cancer has changed just about everything. My life, my career, my body. But aside from that, I am still, at the core, the same person I was before. Maybe a little wiser, but the same person.

And so I guess this is the time to say something that I sometimes feel like shouting out loud. I hope I speak for all of you out there who have this disease when I say, “I am not my disease.” We, all of us, are much much more than that.
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Joel Meares is a former CJR assistant editor.