I was greatly saddened to hear late on Monday that a long time friend of mine, Carolyn Scerra, died on Monday of ovarian cancer. She was 35, and leaves behind a husband and a two year old daughter.
Carolyn was a high school science teacher, and she had promoted my Intro to Internet Science series and given me feedback based on her experiences in the classroom. A year ago, before her illness had made its ugly appearance, I got to speak to her class in person and see her at work. A fire alarm went off half way through my presentation, and we actually finished most of it in the parking lot. We laughed as she held her laptop up so they could see my slides and I talked about lizard people, while other classes looked on in confusion. Through it all she kept the class orderly, calm, and engaged. We had a great discussion about science education and how to support kids and science teachers, and it was a great day despite the interruptions. She was great at what she did, and I was honored to be part of it.
When she got sick in November, she ended up at my workplace for her treatment. I was able to see her a few times during some of her hospitalizations and chemo treatments, and we still talked about science. I would tell her about the latest clinical trials we were working on and we would talk about genetics research and cancer, some of which I turned in to a post. For many people that would not have been a soothing conversation, but it was for Carolyn. She liked to think about the science behind what was going on and where the science was going, even as the best science was failing her. When another friend taught her how to paint, she started painting representations of how the chemotherapy looked in her blood and would interact with the cancer cells. That’s the kind of person she was.
This is a huge loss for so many, and I will truly miss her. Science has lost an advocate, a community has lost an amazing person, kids lost a great teacher, her family has lost a daughter/sister/cousin, and her husband and daughter have lost a wife and mother. A fundraiser has been set up for her family here.
May peace find all of them.