Alan Townsend is a professor and associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has also served as a senior executive at the National Science Foundation.
Cancer won’t seem to leave my family alone. My grandmother, my mother, my father. Then my daughter, her fifth Christmas spent in intensive care after 11 hours of brain surgery. A year later, it came for my wife. Our daughter sat looking small and frail, shielded by a pair of oversize pink headphones, as the radiologist struggled to tell us there were two large lesions in my wife’s brain.
My wife, a woman of uncommon brilliance and strength, took her final breath on New Year’s Eve in 2015, her body like a wraith. But she took that breath at home, surrounded by people she loved, having said goodbye on her terms. Science gave our family that gift.