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NEW YORK — Former ABC News “Nightline” executive producer Leroy Sievers, whose struggle with cancer led him to reach a wide audience with his National Public Radio commentary and blog, died Saturday at his home in Maryland. He was 53.
Sievers was a nationally accomplished journalist for ABC News and CBS News, executive producer of “Nightline” for four years and with former host Ted Koppel when he was embedded during the Iraq war in 2003. He also produced “The Fallen,” the controversial “Nightline” tribute to the war dead.
But it was his two bouts with cancer that were his struggle and triumph. He was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2001. Four years later, the cancer returned as a brain tumor, lung cancer and, in 2006, in his spine. He went behind the microphone to detail his chemotherapy treatment for National Public Radio audiences in 2006, and began the “My Cancer” blog that instantly became one of NPR’s best-known features. Thousands read and contributed to the blog, which chronicled his life with cancer. Many said that it touched their lives or their loved ones’ lives.
He also did commentaries for NPR’s “Morning Edition” about living with cancer; he also did a podcast.
“Cancer was not in Leroy’s plans. But he turned his battle with cancer into the most dramatic, the most moving and the most important story of his life,” Koppel wrote in a statement released by NPR. Koppel said that Sievers inspired courage by what he wrote and who he was: “Larger than life while he walked among us, and destined to be even larger in our memories.” Sievers was profiled by his friend Koppel in a Discovery documentary about cancer in 2007.
He had several surgeries but after the cancer spread to his liver and elsewhere two months ago, he decided to stop treatment.
Not long ago, Sievers described the blog as a “rest stop.”
“But if I’ve learned anything over the last two years, it’s that life with cancer is tough,” he wrote. “I’ve learned something far more important, too. No matter what happens, we’re all in this together. None of us will walk this road alone.”
In his 24-year career with ABC and CBS, he worked at “Nightline” and was a bureau chief for CBS News. He won 12 national Emmys, two Peabodys and other awards.
He is survived by his wife, Laurie Singer.
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