‘Extremely grateful’: Late Pa. teacher wrote own obituary during cancer battle

Photo Courtesy: Forever Amber Photography

Ashley Kuzma beat laryngeal cancer three times before she passed away on Sept. 22.

The 32-year-old teacher from Erie, Pennsylvania wrote her own obituary so she could make her death 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,” Ashley wrote to start her obituary.

In spite of the fact she was writing one of her last messages to the world, Ashley kept her sense of humor.

“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 joked.

Ashley also kept a profoundly positive perspective that she wanted to impart on all that read her obituary.

She explained that her experience with recurrent cancer, which was first diagnosed in June 2017, taught her to “let go of insignificant things and to just enjoy the people and places.”


Photo Courtesy: Forever Amber Photography

There was so much more to Ashley Kuzma and she made sure to detail her extensive accomplishments, hobbies, and experiences.

Born in 1987 in Beaver County, Ashely spent most of her life living within the state and achieving first a Bachelor’s from the University of Pittsburgh and then a teaching certificate and a Master of Education at the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

Beyond teaching, Ashley remarked that she enjoyed “reading, cuddling with my cats, wine tasting, relaxing on my dad's boat, watching movies, golfing, decorating my house, watching football (go Steelers!), appreciating a good sunset, and watching TV shows.”

In her 32 years, Ashley traveled all over the world and saw parts of countries such as England, France, Poland, Italy, and Mexico.

Even during her cancer battle, Ashley managed to win a $10,000 donation for the McDowell Intermediate High School where she worked.

“I am extremely grateful for the life that I lived,” Ashley wrote. “I was fortunate to have a loving family, supportive friends, a stable and meaningful job, and a house to call my own.”


Photo Courtesy: Forever Amber Photography

Ashley’s parting message to the world held poignant reminders as well.

“My wish for you is to stop letting insignificant situations stress you out. Do what is important to you,” she urged. “Relax and enjoy the company of those around you. What do you value in your life? In the end, that's what matters.”

Instead of a viewing, which she considered “too sad for everyone,” Ashley’s family will host a celebration of her life.

Visitors are invited to join them on Sun. Oct, 13 from 12:00 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Perry Highway Hose Co. Oliver Rd., Erie, Pa.