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She Sounded the Alarm

Cleveland Plain Dealer / Angelo Merendino

Jennifer Merendino blogged about her cancer journey, while her husband photographed her daily struggles.

Jennifer Merendino, who died of breast cancer at age 40, "boldly used the power of blogs and photography to raise awareness about the disease, spur women to get mammograms and sound the alarm about environmental toxins," reporter Grant Segall wrote in an obituary published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The family obit that ran in the Akron Beacon-Journal includes details about the "battle she did not choose."

More than 130 messages appear in the guest book that accompanies her obit.

Merendino’s husband, Angelo, a photographer, "detailed her daily struggles in stark black-and-white pictures" and posted them online, Segall wrote in her obit.

"Although it wasn't the type of fame anyone would choose for themselves, Merendino didn't shy away from the spotlight after her cancer diagnosis," Segall wrote. She blogged frequently until her health began to fail. On her blog, she shared the stories of her struggle with cancer and journey through chemotherapy, and she discussed her concerns about factors in the environment that have led to an increase in cancer.

"Five months ago, she posted a solemn video of herself on YouTube. With a bald head and wearing a black strapless top, she talked plainly about her tumors, treatments and the close relationships that made the pain more bearable."

"This journey, although very difficult beyond difficult is just one that I wanted to share with you," Merendino concluded while gazing into the camera. "Maybe share it with somebody that you love, to help them. And that's my wish. Thank you."

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This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer. She was the director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers before she passed away in 2015.