A Pennsylvania teacher penned her own obituary as she battled throat cancer, advising her friends and loved ones to "let go of the insignificant things and to just enjoy the people and places."
Ashley Ann Kuzma was just 32 when she died at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. She had fought laryngeal cancer for two years after chronic throat pain and hoarseness led to her diagnosis.
She endured 29 rounds of radiation and five chemo treatments, eventually undergoing surgery to remove her vocal chords. But nothing drove out the persistent disease that claimed her life on Sept. 22.
"When you have recurrent laryngeal cancer that just won't take no for an answer, you have a lot of time to think about death," Kuzma began her obit. She infused her death notice with doses of humor.
"The good thing is I no longer have to worry about saving for retirement, paying off student loans, or trying not to get skin cancer," she wrote.
"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," she said.
In that vein, Kuzma said she was writing her own obituary to spare her family the burden of having to do it while dealing with her death.
She asked that friends and family celebrate her life instead of having a viewing because the latter is "too sad for everyone," she wrote.
Kuzma graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and joined McDowell Intermediate High School as a teacher. She enjoyed reading, "cuddling with my cats" and watching the Steelers football team.
"I was fortunate to have a loving family, supportive friends, a stable and meaningful job, and a house to call my own," she wrote. "My wish for you is to stop letting insignificant situations stress you out. Do what is important to you. Relax and enjoy the company of those around you. What do you value in your life? Int the end, that's what matters."