Patrick Leer

Earlier this week, lung cancer extinguished a bright star. Patrick Leer is the first cancer friend I’ve lost. It’s heartbreaking in so many ways; some were anticipated, others were not.

Patrick was diagnosed in January 2012, just a few months after me. He was stage 1 and had surgery in March 2012. After 14 months cancer-free, his doctors discovered new lung tumors and brain mets in May 2013. He had WBR for his brain and was suffering through chemotherapy to treat his lungs when he started going downhill. I know he was hospitalized with an infection but had come home shortly before he died.

I knew Patrick through his blog, our emails, and short Twitter direct messages. He was a kind man whose primary passion was to love and care for his wife, crippled by MS only four years into the 28 they would spend together. He loved her so much and spoke of the time they spent together only as a privilege and never a burden.

Patrick blogged at I’ve found myself going back, seeing if I could piece together his last few weeks, but I can’t. Maybe his daughter will finish his story someday.

Lung cancer only exists to kill, and after two years in this unfortunate club, it has taken one of my friends. The rest of us can only hold hands a little tighter and hug our loved ones a little longer. And when we tell you “I love you,” please know that we mean it so much it hurts.



17 responses to “Patrick Leer

  • Angela Evans,R.N.

    I am so sorry to hear that someone you had grown close to,and shared a common bond through your cancer,has died. I am sure your in pain not only because he is gone far too soon,but also because it reminds you of your mortality. Please don’t give up. Keep up the fight!!!

  • costellocnm

    Hi Jessica, I am so sorry to hear about your friend Patrick…another tragic loss. Cancer sucks ! My Oncologist just called me today to tell me my post Tarceva scans & brain MRI show metastasis…major bummer. Luckily, I feel fine & have no symptoms. I remain optimistic & await the next game plan. We are all in this together . My heart goes out to you & Patrick’s family. Sending you a big hug. Thanks for sharing your blog with us. Wishing you all the Best. Maureen

    • Jessica Rice

      Oh Maureen, that really sucks. I’m sorry you got this news. I’m glad you’re asymptomatic; hopefully the tumor(s) is small and singular/few. When will you discuss a plan of attack? I appreciate your kind words and the time you take to read my blog.

      xo Jessica


  • Ria Holdaway

    I am so sorry to hear about another LC loss.

    I was diagnosed a year and 3 months ago with Stage 4 NSCLC ros1 positive.
    I have scans on Monday, I hate scans, but have hope that they will be good.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. It helps me feel less alone on a journey that I wish no one else ever had to go through. Your words struck me because they describe my feelings exactly and I have said them before. About loving so much it physically hurts.

    Anyway, thanks again:)

  • Craig

    I wish his cancer had been cured by surgery, wish he had more treatment options to extend his life, wish the end of his fight had not come unexpectedly soon, and especially sorry to know you’ve lost a good battle buddy.

  • Sally pitman

    So sorry to hear this very sad news. I have been feeling so well since treatment, after my Jan 2013 diagnosis, that it is easy to forget the inevitable outcome of this awful disease. A good thing, I suppose, so that we can appreciate the time we have. Patrick’s life is a reminder of this.

  • Sharon Wierwille

    I am so sorry – for him, for his family, for you his friend. Always hoping and wishing for a cure. We are all in this battle together and never know what tomorrow may bring for us.

  • costellocnm

    Good morning Jessica, to answer your question. I go for follow up appt. with Onc. on Monday. She mentioned whole brain radiation as a possible treatment as there are 12 small lesions < 7mm. She is going to present my case to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC's "tumor board" meeting on Monday morning & then she will meet with my husband & I at 5pm to discuss findings & new plan of action. Hanging in there and sending love your way. I hope you have a relaxing weekend,Maureen

  • Steve Schuster

    Thank you for your tribute to Patrick – Patrick leaves all of us the legacy of his dedication to his family, and any with life-threatening health challenges, and his compassionate advocacy. He will be missed, but I am certain his life’s work will continue.

    My best to you in your own quest.

    SteveS (HPHS ’68)

  • RoniLynn

    yea, this one broke me down a bit, even thought I’d never ‘communicated’ with him directly. I found his story during the time I was trying to make sense of my mom’s death from lung cancer. I was seeking out groups and individuals and just trying to understand it all. His name and face was one of the very first that I remember latching on to, if that makes any sense. I absolutely love my Twitter friends, but I ache when they ache. I didn’t know Patrick, but I hope his daughter knows that we all ‘loved’ his spirit. *sigh*
    Laronica aka @louisianagirl91

  • Sjoukje

    Sad news…Im sorry Jessica….. Sending lots of hugs to you and to his family and friends. RIP Patrick

  • Sabina

    I’m so sorry you have lost a friend, Jessica. Even though I believe in an afterlife, when someone dies their presence in our current life is gone. I don’t know how often or to what depth you and Patrick communicated, but I’m pretty sure you enriched each other’s lives. From the brief description you gave of him, he sounds like a man capable of loving deeply and constantly. My deepest sympathy to his daughter and any other family.

  • Roy

    I thought bout your post most of last night. I have nothing profound with which to respond. Your comments and thoughts are simply the best.

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