The Daily Republic lost a mainstay of the newsroom early this week with the death of Kathleen L’Ecluse, a stalwart news hound who could not only sniff out a compelling story and write it, but taught succeeding generations of young journalists how to do so during her quarter-century-plus tenure here.
Kathy’s death was sudden, and somewhat unexpected. She fought a very public battle with breast cancer not once, not twice but three times. So while the death of a longtime cancer patient is never fully unexpected, Kathy’s death came as a shock because she appeared to have taken a turn for the better.
Kathy’s Op-Ed column, which appeared every other week on the Sunday Opinion Page, was titled On the Loose, a fun play on the pronunciation of her last name. In it, she wrote of her antics with her pet cats, her experience with a family of feral cats, the invasion of her backyard by a killer raccoon. She also wrote of her cancer, about how it was affecting her, about the treatments. Over the course of my two years here at the DR she was gone for up to a month at a time, oftentimes in and out of the hospital.
When she regained her strength, she returned to work and shared with us, and with you, her latest challenges, and her triumphs.
Kathy began a new course of treatment early this year that nearly took her down. After one round of treatment, which represented approximately a month of treatments, she was a shell of her former self and ended up in the hospital.
The frustrating thing about that experience was that the treatments led to a marked improvement in her cancer symptoms. Her body just couldn’t take it, and it took months for Kathy to regain her strength to the point where she could begin those treatments once again, albeit with a much smaller dose of medication.
That’s where she was a little more than a month ago. She made it through a three-week cycle of once-a-week doses of the chemotherapy, but on the fourth week — her week off of the treatments — she could not muster the strength to come to work. She was soon hospitalized. She was in the ICU for two weeks and underwent surgery toward the end of her stay. The surgery was not successful, but she survived it.
True to form, Kathy’s condition improved. She was discharged from the hospital and entered a long-term care facility with the goal of taking part in up to 100 days of physical therapy and rehabilitation to regain her strength and endurance.
That was Friday, Oct. 7. By Monday, Oct. 10, Kathy was gone.
The community outpouring since Kathy’s death has been tremendous, so much so that she would be embarrassed. Kathy was, after all, a very private person.
Beyond the kind comments posted on the story about Kathy’s death on the DR’s website, we have received countless calls and emails from those expressing their condolences to the DR staff and to Kathy’s friends and family.
People coming into the office this week to renew subscriptions and to purchase classified advertising are taking time to share their condolences as well. We also heard from our friends — and competitors — at The Vacaville Reporter, who experienced their own loss earlier this year when Brian Hamlin died.
This column serves to pass those kind words and sympathy on to the rest of the DR’s staff, to Kathy’s friends and to Kathy’s brother, Brett.
Cancer, in any of its advanced forms, is a vicious disease. Kathy fought the good fight against her cancer for the better part of a decade, and is now truly on the loose.
Reach Glen Faison at 427-6925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.