A Pennsylvania teacher who fought laryngeal cancer for two years penned an obituary before her death last month urging people to enjoy life and "let go of the insignificant things."
Ashley Ann Kuzma, of Beaver County, died Sept. 22 at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, according to her online obituary. The 32-year-old wrote the obituary to help "make the transition easier on her family."
"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. 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."
Kuzma was diagnosed with cancer in June 2017 after experiencing chronic throat pain that made her voice hoarse, according to GoErie.com. She underwent 29 radiation treatments at a hospital in Pittsburgh. The tumors went away but returned the following year.
In March 2018, the McDowell Intermediate High School teacher had a partial laryngectomy, a surgical procedure to remove a portion of her voice box.
In August of that year, a scan showed that she had mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a cancer of the salivary glands, GoErie.com reports. Kuzma then had a total laryngectomy at the Cleveland Clinic and underwent 30 radiation and five chemotherapy treatments.
She wrote in her obituary that after her cancer returned for the fourth time, she took a trip to Mexico to visit Chichén Itzá, the Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula.
"I am extremely grateful for the life that I lived. I was fortunate to have a loving family, supportive friends, a stable and meaningful job, and a house to call my own," she said.
Kuzma wrote that she loved to read, go to wine tastings, relax on her father's boat and cuddle with her cats. She was a fan of golf and liked cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Pennsylvania native also enjoyed traveling, and in addition to vacationing in Mexico, she visited London, Paris, Poland, Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome.
"Some of my favorite family vacations include experiencing the awe of the Grand Canyon and enjoying the sun, sand, and family time in the Outer Banks," her obituary stated.
Kuzma said her wish is for people to "stop letting insignificant situations stress you out."
"Do what is important to you. Relax and enjoy the company of those around you.," she wrote.