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Book project carries on professor’s love of teaching

Leah Vande Berg and Nick Trujillo

Leah Vande Berg loved teaching. And though she is gone, she continues to educate.

The communication studies professor died
from ovarian cancer in 2004. She and husband professor Nick Trujillo are co-authors of a book about cancer and death written from the perspective of a cancer victim and her husband.

“The consummate teacher, Leah looked at her cancer as
an opportunity to teach people about how to live, how to
love and how to die,” says Trujillo, who is completing their
book while on sabbatical. “By co-authoring this book, she
continues to teach people even after her death.”

Their book, titled Uv Ou: Loving Through Cancer, Living Through Grief, is expected to be completed by August. The words “Uv Ou” are the last words that Vande Berg used in response to Trujillo saying he loved her. Vande Berg dictated more than 20 hours of audio recordings for her portion of the book.

Trujillo is not sugar-coating their experience and includes
details of pain and suffering. “These are topics that are often
avoided in American culture, even though more than 10
million people have cancer and 1 million are diagnosed each
year,” Trujillo says. “So many people are going through this. I
want to help them know what to expect.”

Vande Berg taught at Sac State from 1990 to 2004. An
expert on mass media, she taught classes on women in the
media and television criticism. She wrote four books and
published more than 40 academic articles.

Trujillo says his wife continued to enjoy life despite her
illness. “She raised the bar,” he says. “That has inspired me.”

A graduate scholarship in communication studies has been established at Sac State in Vande Berg’s name. In addition, the University of Iowa will hold its first Leah Vande Berg Alumni Lecture in March.

 

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