Mary Susan Herczog, who reacted to being diagnosed with breast cancer at 33 by documenting her subsequent journey in the Los Angeles Times and on her Web site, has died. She was 45.
Herczog, who also wrote travel books, died Tuesday at her Silver Lake home of complications related to the disease, her husband, Steve Hochman, told the Los Angeles Times.
"Yes, gentle reader, it, and I, are back," she wrote in a 2002 update in The Times.
"'It' would be the breast cancer I had diagnosed (I forgo the verb 'battled' since, to my way of thinking, all I did was lie back and let stuff be done to me) in 1997 and thought banished forever by July 1998, chronicled right here in a monthly series called 'brave and inspirational' by some and 'obliviously and freakishly cheerful' by others."
In The Times' Health section – and later on her Web site, CancerChick.com – Herczog wrote about her invasive breast cancer, often leavening the poignancy with sardonic wit, according to the newspaper.
"People were definitely shocked by her writing," her husband told The Times. "They'd say, 'How can you put so much humor into something so scary?' But ... they would see she was making it less scary ... that you could be this real person and have cancer."
Several years ago, Herczog began an intellectual quest unrelated to her illness, her husband said, and started working toward a doctorate in the philosophy of religion and theology.
Three days before she died, she was awarded a master's degree in the subject from Claremont Graduate University in a ceremony at her home.
In addition to her husband, Herczog is survived by her mother, a sister and a brother. No funeral details were immediately available.