An Ohio teacher who died of laryngeal cancer last month has left behind a moving obituary urging everyone to “do what is important to you.”
Ashley Kuzma had been battling cancer for two years. The disease returned multiple times despite 30 rounds of radiation and five chemotherapy treatments.
The 32-year-old penned her own obituary, which appeared in the Erie Times-News on Thursday, a week after her death at Cleveland Clinic on Sept. 22.
“One positive outcome from having recurrent cancer was that it taught me to let go of the insignificant things and to just enjoy the people and places,” Kuzma wrote.
The obituary went on to describe how grateful she was for her life up until that point, noting that she got to travel a lot and even visited Mexico to see Chichen Itza, a wonder of the world, when she found out her cancer had returned.
“My wish for you is to stop letting insignificant situations stress you out,” she wrote. “Do what is important to you. Relax and enjoy the company of those around you.”
“What do you value in your life? In the end, that’s what matters.”
She also cracked a joke near the beginning of her final farewell.
“The good thing is I no longer have to worry about saving for retirement, paying off student loans or trying not to get cancer,” she wrote.
Kuzma was a support teacher at a high school in Erie, GoErie reports.
Despite undergoing a laryngectomy — a procedure which removes the larynx and separates the airway from the mouth, nose and esophagus — in 2018, she was determined to continue teaching.
She returned to school following her surgery, the local publication reports, and was able to speak by pressing down on the prosthesis that covered the opening in her neck.
She even won a seven-day cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line, a cruise company that offers free trips to passionate teachers.
Her obituary has received more than 100 comments since its publication.
“Thank you for reminding us what is truly important,” one person wrote.
Another person commented: “What a remarkable young life. She has really sent a message to my heart with her sentiment.”
The commenter continued: “I am recovering from surgery for a carcinoid lung tumour. I will try my best, Ashley, to live in the now and not sweat the small stuff.”