GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - Lauren Terrazzano, a

Newsday

reporter who received praise from cancer survivors as well as professional accolades for revealing details of her own three-year struggle with lung cancer in a weekly column, has died at age 39.

"I don't know what possessed me to ask the oncologist how long I have left," Terrazzano wrote about a month before her death. "In the nearly three years I've been battling this disease, I've never asked for my prognosis. I hate that word. But my body has betrayed me lately, more than usual."

The writer's death Tuesday night at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan was announced to the Newsday staff yesterday.

Terrazzano covered a variety of beats, most recently as a child welfare/social services reporter. She began writing the column, "Life, With Cancer," in October 2006.

She wrote about the inappropriate things people say to cancer patients because they don't know what else to say and about breaking the myth that people with cancer are heroes, "when really we're just like everyone else."

Terrazzano, who wrote in an April 17 column that she had smoked on and off for about five years, also took shots at the tobacco marketers, opined about aspiring first lady Elizabeth Edwards' battle with cancer and about the stress the disease has on loved ones, all the while trying to maintain a sense of humor and humanity.

She is survived by her husband, Al Baker, a reporter with The New York Times. They had recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary. *