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Journalist With Brain Cancer Thanks Those Who Made Her Life ‘Rich & Beautiful’ in Final Column


 "What does it mean when the rest of your life may be measured in weeks?"

That's the start of Alison Piepmeier's last column for the Charleston City Paper.

Piepmeier has been battling a brain tumor for seven years, but last month she wrote that her tumor had gotten progressively bigger and she no longer had treatment options. She's currently in hospice care.


But Piepmeier's cancer hasn't stopped her from doing what she loves: writing.

Piepmeier continues to file stories using voice recognition software and help from her mother and husband of two months, Brian McGee.


Piepmeier told ABC News via email that she really wanted to write one last column.

"This column was especially hard to write," she explained. "I've spent years writing about cancer, but also about children, disability, abortion, Down syndrome, homophobia, and other challenging topics. I wanted to finish by writing about things that always matter, but especially those things that matter at the end: love, family, friendship, gratitude, and forgiveness."

"As I feel myself slipping away," she added, "I wanted to say goodbye while I still could."

And Piepmeier, 43, did. She not only mentioned the "many acts of kindness" from family and friends, but also noted "brothers, parents, friends, teachers, students, co-workers, lovers, and readers" and even her editor, Chris Haire. In her goodbye, she also wrote about her daughter Maybelle's "first princess party."

"I am happy, so happy, to have experienced a princess party," she wrote. "I am so sorry there won't be more of them for me, if only because I would never turn down the chance to experience the pure joy of my daughter singing 'Let It Go' over and over."

Even in her final weeks, Piepmeier said she is still looking forward to many of life's joys.

"For the time I have left, I want to be with people I love and who love me," she said. "Because I have so little time left, unfortunately there are more people to see than I can realistically manage. I am sad -- tears are an everyday experience -- but I love being with people who have cared so much for me, who have made my life rich, beautiful, and rewarding."

She added: "I don't presume to know what a next life would be like. I don't even know what to imagine. In a next life, I hope I would be in a place where people would need me, where there is something meaningful to do. A next life without work, without purpose, would be disappointing."

When asked what her legacy might be, Piepmeier replied quite honestly, "Other people get to decide our legacy."

Still, she said she hopes her legacy will live on through her students "at the College of Charleston and at Vanderbilt."

"At the center of my heart, though, are my friends and my family. What I have left them is what matters most to me," she concluded.
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