Duke, the puppy my mom got when my dad died of cancer, has died of cancer.

Duke, the puppy my mom got when my dad died of cancer, has died of cancer.

If love alone could have kept you here, you would have lived forever.


OCTOBER 10, 2010 – APRIL 26, 2019

Duke was so loved and a huge part of the family. He was diagnosed with Doggy-Cancer, Lymphoma, just days ago. He passed away this morning being held and loved by my mother and brother. They got Duke right after my dad passed away in 2011. He has been a steadfast companion to them both for over 8 years, and I know he’s left a great big hole in their hearts.

How Duke came to be a Ridley

My dad died of lung cancer

My dad was an artist and liked to paint quirky, folksy art. He painted this mural on the side of the shed/workroom when he and my mom bought their home in 2007, to make it look like the outside of a Mexican jail. That’s my dad. 🙂 Sadly, he died of lung cancer in 2011 (while I was going through breast cancer chemotherapy treatments).

Right after he passed my brother took my mom to get a rescue dog to help keep her company, and they adopted Duke right then. They picked this sweet pup in particular because he was all white. My father was known for his bright white head of hair, which had been solid white since he was 16, in the 50s. They named the dog Duke, after my dad, whom my brother’s swarms of theatre friends had affectionately called “Papa Dukes”.

It wasn’t until months later, when the weather was warm again, that they noticed the image of the pup on the side of the shed was an almost perfect rendition of their newest addition, Duke.

Bob's painting and our Duke. Bob painted that in 2007, we didn't rescue Duke until 2011, after Bob passed.

Bob’s painting and our Duke. Bob painted that in 2007, we didn’t rescue Duke until 2011, after Bob passed. The resemblance wasn’t seen till months later.

Whoa! Right?!

It was obviously meant to be, and Duke was a very special part of the family.

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Here are some parting images. #thatunderbite

Lori O’Neil

Lori O’Neil

My neighbor. Stage 4 lung cancer. 6 beautiful children.

Lori Ann O’Neil, 47, of Kill Devil Hills, NC died at her home on Monday, July 24, 2017, of cancer. Born in Louisville, KY, she was the daughter of Linda Elkins Dionisio and Felimon M. Dionisio of Williamsburg, VA. Lori was a member of Holy Redeemer By the Sea Catholic Church.

Along with her parents, Lori is survived by her husband, Jon P. O’Neil; three daughters, Mary Maison, Brigid Ita, and Tara Rose; three sons, Conan Patrick, Brian Dennis, and Kevin Joseph; and a brother, Steven Patrick Dionisio.

Jean Sherwood

Jean Sherwood

Jean Isabel Sherwood of Southern Shores, June 9

Jean Isabel Sherwood of Southern Shores fought a short but brave battle with cancer and passed peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by family Friday, June 9, 2017

A Real Estate Professional for Carolina Designs Realty. She loved spending time with family, dogs (especially collies), jazz, beachcombing and advanced Lego construction.

Noelle Breit

Noelle Breit

Noelle Yan Breit, 10, of Kitty Hawk passed away on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughter in Norfolk, Virginia. Born on November 9, 2005 in Hunan, China, Noelle was adopted by Barry Andrew Breit and Deborah Lynn Crandell Breit on August 21, 2006 at the age of 9 months.

A Kitty Hawk Elementary School 5th grader, Noelle was very active in a variety of activities. She loved arts and crafts, riding her bike, and singing and dancing when no one was watching. She also played soccer, basketball and softball with Dare County Parks and Rec.

Full obit here

Señor Ramón Sánchez

Señor Ramón Sánchez

Ramón Edmundo Sánchez
Born June 22, 1944, in Managua, Nicaragua
Throat cancer, Lung Cancer. Age 72.

Ramón was a graduate of James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia. He then went on to further his education at Central American Institute of Business Administration, a branch of Harvard University, receiving masters degrees in both business administration and marketing. Ramón taught Spanish within the Dare County public school system for 25 years and was the owner and operator of the Sánchez Family Rum Distillery and Farms in his home country. A talented concert pianist having performed with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, he was also declared the ping pong champion for Nicaragua and Dare County.

Ramón is survived by his wife of 39 years, Teresitá Sánchez; five children, Michelle Sánchez and partner, Alexis, Ramón Sánchez and wife, Rachel, Andrew Sánchez, Edmundo Sánchez and wife, Evania and Jeanette Sánchez; and five grandchildren, Evaine Claire, Ramón III, Silvia, Ivan and Victoria.

From daughter Michele:
My father, Señor Sánchez “The Best in the World,”was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer about a year ago.  My dad has always been the one everyone goes to whether it would be for advice, help with Spanish, or anything that comes your way. My dad would do anything and everything he could to help his students, friends, family and even strangers.

Many of you know Señor Sánchez, He has been a beloved teacher in Dare County for over 25 years he may have been either your Spanish teacher or your child’s. As he always says “The Best in the World.” 

I still remember having to leave my birth country (because of communistic persecution directed towards our family) where we had an abundance of wealth. My family literally went from having everything to having to leave it all behind and start from scratch in a new place with a different language, my dad was the only one who spoke English.

My Dad became a teacher when a friend told him that with his Masters he could be a teacher as long as he gets his certificate. The next two years my father did not sleep. He would drive to Plymouth and teach, then he would go to Greenville 4 times a week, and when he would return back to the Outer Banks he would go clean St. Andrews by the Sea Church where he was the Janitor. He would get home around 3 in the Morning and do it all over again.

My brothers and I grew up watching my parent’s perseverance, courage and strength. They were always thankful and humble for the opportunity to work. They never asked for help. Even when we didn’t have much my parents still were able to help other family members get on their feet when they came to the Outer Banks, some even lived with us in our small home at the time. My parents were always helping others, I still have memories of them helping the poor and bringing them into their home even when we lived in Nicaragua.

So you see, my parents raised me to be self-sufficient, to be courageous and perseverant. They taught me humbleness and grace, showed me how to love, protect and care for those you love and even those you don’t know. I am a strong person of good morals and character in many aspects of life because of them and everything they went through for my brothers and for each other.

Almost 4 years ago my dad, Señor Sánchez was diagnosed with Throat Cancer. He took the news rather well. His mental perseverance never wavered. Through Chemo and radiation treatments for about a year, dad had a hard time speaking and had to get a feeding tube because the inside of his mouth and throat were burnt from the radiation treatments. He fought hard and caused the Cancer to go into remission, it went a way. Dad would get tested every 3 months to see if the cancer was still gone and for about a year it never showed up.

About a year ago Dad had a really bad cough that just wouldn’t go away, but my dad doesn’t like doctors so it was hard to get him to go. When he finally went, our family doctor told him that he will treat him for the cough but if it doesn’t go away within a week, then my dad would have to go have a cancer screening on his throat and chest. Well the cough did not go away. My dad went to get his screening and about a week later we received devastating news. He has stage four lung cancer. We haven’t even finished paying off the bills from the first cancer and then this is brought before us.

It was a very difficult time for the entire family and this time it hit Dad extremely hard because he had lost his mother at age 16 from lung cancer. He knew what he was about to go through and he knew what his wife and children were about to endure. It shattered him. Yet, my dad took on the treatments the doctors recommended. The treatments completely changed his physical appearance but never took away his Strength to NOT GIVE UP.

About a month ago the doctors informed us that the treatments where not working and that the lung cancer was growing…… Once again another hit to the heart, another hit to our family, to my dad. It was about a week it took to get another game plan, so now dad is going to Duke University to be part of an experimental treatment that has shown major progress and amazing results. We are praying that this program will add some more years to his life. Dad is on Oxygen now and cannot work; he cannot do much, which he hates. He has always been a very active person and not being able to do his normal everyday things is extremely bothersome. .


I’m so sorry to say but Dad has passed. He went peacefully listening to some of his favorite songs with Ramon holding one hand and I holding the other. He will always be remembered and he will always be the Best in the World! I love you Daddy! We will update on funeral arrangements as soon as possible.
Chip Hedenburg

Chip Hedenburg



spiritual gangster

Do not live too far in the past or the future. Live now.

Very happy to be living here at the beach. Thankful for my many friends.

Quit his day job and opened “Shiva’s Drum” yoga and spiritual shop.

Died so quickly. I am so, so sorry Chip. I have been through this, and I should have been more support for you. I couldn’t even bear to see you wither away while I was still living. I am sorry. I think of you often.

Danielle James

Danielle James

High School teacher, wife, mother of four young girls.

We shared a breast-cancer-sisterhood hug just days before she passed away.

She was my neighbor; I used to see her going for walks in our neighborhood. When she was in treatment, she was not walking. She had started walking again after treatment, with more frequency and more strenghth.

We had just commented that she was getting better.

I didn’t know her then. I just knew her as the high school teacher that was fighting cancer. Many of my teacher friends knew her and always spoke extremely highly of her. But I didn’t know her.

Our paths crossed through a mutual friend, very briefly. Just long enough to share the most sincere hug I’ve ever experienced. At the time, I didn’t even realize she was the teacher that I would see walking our neighborhood.

And then 3 days later she put her beautiful daughters on the school bus, returned to her bed, and fell asleep until she no longer felt the pain.

She died on my birthday.

She is sorely missed by the Outer Banks community and Dare County schools.

Her Tribute in the local Outer Banks Voice. 

Magic Mike

Magic Mike

My daughter, Giana, with Magic Mike at a friend's birthday party.

My daughter, Giana, with Magic Mike at a friend’s birthday party.

Longtime OBX entertainer ‘Magic Mike’ Stoffel pictured here with my daughter Giana. He made so many children smile.
Liver Cancer.

After nearly three decades of bringing joy to generations of children on the Outer Banks, “Magic Mike” Stoffel died this morning in his Colington Harbour home after battling liver cancer. He was 62.

Stoffel was best known in the community for his clown performances during birthday parties, fund raisers and other special events. Over the years, he brought smiles to the faces of thousands of local children with his entertaining magic tricks and balloon animal creations.

Read his local obituary at The Outer Banks Voice

The Fruit Salad Guy

The Fruit Salad Guy

There was this kind man who had undergone treatment for cancer at the same oncologist as me. I suppose he noticed that the food that was available for us to snack on during treatments was not at all healthy.  So once he was better and recovered from his treatments, he started preparing a delicious fresh fruit salad, every week, and brought it to the chemo treatment room every Thursday, to share wholesome fruit salad with anyone getting chemo that day. I loved chatting with him and was so comforted to hear of the gratitude he had for the success of his cancer treatments. And then one day, he was gone. I asked the head nurse, and sure enough, he was gone. It came back.

It gets everyone. It got the fruit salad guy. 🙁


April, the Lab Receptionist

April, the Lab Receptionist

Receptionist at my Bloodwork Lab during my treatments.
Ovarian Cancer.

I knew April as the warm and friendly lady at the front desk of the lab where I had my bloodwork drawn for my own cancer treatments. One say, she told me a secret. She was wearing a wig and was also going through chemotherapy and treatment. She told me to keep strong, that it would all work out OK.

We discussed her wig each week, and how much she hated wearing it and couldn’t wait to go without it. I told her to rock her super short hair. Next appointment, there she was grinning. She said it was her first day without the wig. I told her she looked spectacular.

As my own treatments came to a close I would start going to the lab with less frequency. Every week went to every month then once per three months, and then down to only twice a year. I didn’t see April for a while, and then, when I was getting my every 6-month preventative and “maintenance” chemo, I was shocked to see April in one of the chemo chairs. She had a remission and was fighting the good fight again. She looked, understandably, tired. Somehow in my naive mind, I thought she’d pull through.

The next time I went to get blood drawn, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I asked the new front desk lady “Where’s April? She’s ok, right?” and the look I got back was all the answer I needed. I cried in the waiting room. I hate cancer.

From April’s obituary:

April Truitt MacDonald, 63, of Colington Harbour, passed away July 2, 2013 after a long battle with ovarian cancer.

What brought April the most joy was spending time with family and friends; whether here in the local community, down on Ocracoke Island, or anywhere good fellowship and company was to be had. April loved nature, especially bird-watching from her deck or camping with her family. She will be remembered most as a loving wife, dedicated mother, and loyal friend.

See her obituary here.

Markie Cocsa

Markie Cocsa

It is with great sadness to announce that our beloved Markie passed away peacefully yesterday morning. At the time of his passing he was surrounded by his loving family. Our beautiful, perfect boy will always live on in our hearts and we take comfort in knowing Markie is now watching over us from beyond.

Through Markie’s journey your love, support and prayers have been such a comfort to him and our family. Words can never truly express what your kindness has meant to us.

Goodnight Our Hero

To be brave is to cry
But still to fight on,
And that’s what you did
Our hero, our son.

The battle was hard
We thought we had won,
But still you fought on
Our hero, our son.

The happiness you brought
To the lives you have touched,
Will live on forever
As you are loved so much.

when we close our eyes we can see you,
When we whisper your name we can hear you,
And when we reach with our hearts we can touch you.

Goodnight our hero, our son, our Markie,
You are just a child
But you have died a man.

Markie Cosca Jr. Tribute Video 1

Markie Cosca Jr. Tribute Video 2

Markie Cosca Jr. Tribute Video 3

Without a doubt – the most difficult tribute I’ve ever made. He was so, so pure and full of love and light. I am honored to have met him. And sometimes feel guilty – how did I make it through, and he did not, when he had SO MUCH MORE to give. It is just not fair. 

Alex Lassiter

Alex Lassiter


October 2, 1989 - March 12, 2013

Alex was a sage and thoughtful person, wise beyond his years. Artistic in nature, his life on the Outer Banks was reflected in his music, surfing and most of all his painting.

Alexander A. “Alex” Lassiter, born October 2, 1989, was an Outer Banks native and graduate of First Flight High School.

On March 12, 2013 Al succumbed to a rare form of cancer after a long and courageous fight.

Saying Goodbye

A memorial paddle out is the way the surfing community says good bye to fellow surfers that have passed. Eric Gardner and Alex Lassiter were two local surfers, both passed earlier this year. It was chosen to wait till this date, giving the water time to warm and favorable conditions. It was perfect.

you taught me to live and love freely and I am forever grateful. time goes quickly but the heartache never gets easier. miss you Al 💕
– Chandler

Sometimes in my tears I drown, but I never let it get me down.
So when negativity surrounds, I know some day it’ll all turn around.

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Sarah Elizabeth Lindsey Gupta

Sarah Elizabeth Lindsey Gupta

OCTOBER 27, 1980 – NOVEMBER 6, 2011

In January 2010, Sarah began having mysterious medical problems that were diagnosed in April of that same year as Stage IV Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma. She underwent a seven-hour surgery at Duke Medical Center and returned to teaching with six weeks, determined to beat the odds of this dreadful terminal cancer. There were no chemotherapy drugs known to be effective, yet she approached her challenge with such a positive attitude and a decision to research all her options, and did all in her power to think “outside the box.” Her desire to return to teaching – the desire of her heart – helped her keep up the fight against cancer. Unfortunately, none of the clinical trial drugs proved effective against this aggressive and rare form of cancer and Sarah Lindsey Gupta left this world on November 6, 2011. Her beauty, positive attitude and grace in the midst of trials, taught everyone she touched both how to live and how to die.

See the tribute website for Sarah.

My Dad

My Dad

Bob Ridley. My Dad.

December 27, 1937 - February 13, 2011

My daddy died tonight. At home, surrounded by love. He’s really missed.

Bob Ridley. My Dad. Lung Cancer.


7 years later