08 September 2010


A television news anchor on KPAX in Missoula is the most popular media personality in western Montana. Jill Valley comes across as professional and serious on screen, but her coworkers know that she has a wry and insidious sense of humor. Watch her closely and you'll see a twinkle in her eye, and the barest quirk of a smile as she quietly delivers a comment or dig to one of her team members, usually without the viewing audience even noticing. Jill has been named Montana Broadcaster of the Year four times, and has won journalism awards for writing and reporting. She's been voted Missoula's best television personality for the past decade.

Jill Valley is the center of attention these days for another reason -- breast cancer. I first learned of it after befriending her on FaceBook. She recently underwent a mastectomy, and is currently enduring chemotherapy. And through it all, she's rarely missed a day of work, nor lost her composure and focus on camera. What blows me away is that she seems so .... well, casual about it all. I know that doesn't come close to summing up her experience. There have been moments when the world is dark and painful and fearsome -- but Jill has unfailingly shared hope, and humor, and gratitude to all those who love and support her.

But my description is hopelessly inadequate. Take a moment to get acquainted with this charming and brilliant woman in her own words, at the August 31st post on her blog, Mission to Missoula. I predict that, like me, you'll come away feeling like you've just met someone you would like as a lifelong friend. Here's to you, Jill, and to all the other woman and men who battle cancer every day, everywhere.

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