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RIP, Terry Hayes

Terry Hayes, an employee of the Houston Chronicle who wrote an award-winning blog that detailed her fight against terminal cancer, has died at the age of 42.

Hayes spent five years as one of the newspaper’s essential support staffers, handling unseen but critical behind-the-scenes tasks, deflecting and distributing calls and complaints, and encouraging — on occasion, demanding — that co-workers live up to her fierce sense of duty and hard work.

“Terry was the voice of the sports department, the first point of contact for readers who called to complain or compliment, and the liaison between the department and the teams we covered,” said Carlton Thompson, the Chronicle’s sports editor.

“Terry’s loss will be felt not only by those of us who had the pleasure to work with her, but also by the many who knew her only as the caring voice on the other end of the line.”

In April 2006, she was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer and was told she had about two years to live. Ten months later, she began “blogging the adventure” as CancerDiva, a name that she said reflected the “mix of darkness and light” that accompanied her battle for survival.

For the next several months, CancerDiva offered readers her thoughts on topics ranging from European travel to the painful tedium of chemotherapy to thoughts about death to the adventures of her beloved cat, Sasha. She was cited as the state’s best newspaper blogger in 2008 by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors Association.

“She was hesitant at first about blogging, but she wanted so much to share her experience with others,” said Scott Clark, Chron.com’s editor. “She not only became a good writer but one who touched the lives of hundreds of people who followed her posts – and her struggle.”

You can read the CancerDiva blog here. She was truly a remarkable person. My sincere condolences to her family and friends. Rest in peace, Terry Hayes.

UPDATE: The Bloggess eulogizes her friend.

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