Public health champion bravely fights cancer, inspires many

Dr. Rice Leach, who has championed public health in Kentucky for decades, is inspiring many by the upbeat way he is battling cancer. “He has talked about it at Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health meetings and at Rotary Club meetings. His hat of choice, a gift his son John bought at Cracker Barrel, reads ‘I’m having a no hair day,'” the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Mary Meehan reports.

Leach was Kentucky’s commissioner for public health from 1992 to 2004. He is now commissioner of Fayette County’s health department, which has undergone a tumultuous transition after the very public replacement of Dr. Melinda Rowe. “I’ve really admired his dedication to the job,” Geoff Reed, a senior adviser to Mayor Jim Gray, told Meehan. “He’s just that kind of person who shows real passion in everything he does.”
Leach, 71, has lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes for which he is being treated with several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Meehan reports how Leach drew inspiration from the example set by his daughter, Mary Leach Whitcomb, who bravely fought breast cancer until her death in 2007. “If that 37-year-old can handle that big mess, you better believe I can handle this,” he said. Meehan’s piece provides a good example of how to write sensitively and informatively about a difficult subject. (Read more)
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