Nine days ago, Newsbusters Associate Editor Noel Sheppard wrote his bosses and said he was interested in writing about his “progress.” A sad foreshadowing: He put the word “progress” in quotes. On Friday, Sheppard died of cancer. He was 53.
In late January, Sheppard began sharing in intimate detail about a health scare that had consumed his life. He was floored by an illness that seemed to appear out of nowhere. “How does someone who doesn’t smoke get lung cancer at 53?” he asked in one of many messages he wrote on Twitter.
Newsbusters‘ Brent Bozell announced the news of his passing in a story this morning on the news site. “Noel was not just a force of nature, he was a very good man,” Bozell wrote. “…It must be said that no blogger here was more prolific and more popular.”
In the months in which he shared the agony and drastic ups and downs of his illness, he kept a sense of humor while also expressing the honesty of his fears. “Got a hot date with a surgeon tomorrow,” he cracked. At one point he asked, “So who believes in positive thinking? Can you will yourself through a serious illness?”
And this wrenching outpouring of self-awareness: ”I spent the next 24 hours crying and being very rude to everyone I came in contact with. I felt I’d been cheated, ripped off by life. I’ve been a good husband and I think the best father I could be. I eat healthier than anyone I know & workout harder than guys half my age. So why did I deserve this? What have I done wrong? So I got angry. And sullen. Stopped talking to people. Just snapped at them. I’m ashamed of the way I’ve behaved the past 24 hours. But I realize now I was accepting defeat before knowing who and what my opponent was. I know I’ve got some tough days ahead, but I’m bringing confident Noel with me, not the coward who’s been crying for 24 hours.”
Around March 10, someone prematurely and horribly announced Sheppard’s death. “Nobody told me!!!” he wrote in response to the report. “How disturbed must you be to falsely declare at a social website that someone has died??” On March 16 he shared, “I was very pleased to log onto Twitter this morning and not find out I had died.”
Early on in that two-month time frame, The Mirror requested an interview. “I’m not well enough,” he replied by email. “Doing very poorly.”
Our condolences to the friends and family of Sheppard. It’s abundantly clear he will be missed.