Amy Turner Tunick of Hollywood, an actress-turned writer who chronicled her 30-month battle against pancreatic cancer
in a weekly column in The South Florida Sun-Times, succumbed to the disease in May, only two weeks after exhorting readers to “never give in or give up,” says writer Carol Marbin Miller.
“Called The Feel Good Column, Tunick’s weekly dispatch seldom dwelt on the details of her life-and-death struggle with a disease that is almost always fatal,” wrote Miller. “‘Cry, scream, feel sorry for yourself – but not for long,’ she wrote in her last column in May.”
Miller reported that Tunick’s professional life spanned a variety of jobs.
In recent years Tunick made costume jewelry, and most of the necklaces, bracelets, and earrings she sold contained a single charm with an inspiring message such as
“hope” or “imagine,” according to Miller.
“Everything she did was wrapped around something positive,” Larry Blustein, Tunick’s editor for 16 years first at the now-shuttered Hallandale Digest, and then at The Sun-Times, told Miller. “Since the diagnosis readers would often ask me how she was doing.”
Friends say Tunick’s kind heart went out to animals as well as people, writes Miller.
“Amy would take the underdog dog,” said Leslie Mann, a spokeswoman for the Department of Children & Families who has known Tunick since college, in a recent interview.
A native of South Florida, Tunick graduated from North Miami High School and attended Florida State University before moving to California to pursue a career in acting, according to research.
“She always wanted to be an actress,” said her younger brother Mark Tunick.
While in Los Angeles, CA she also ran a massage service and owned a small business called Pamper and Dine in which she and a partner cooked gourmet meals and offered massages, often to celebrity clients, say friends.
“If you’re a spirit believerÃ¢Â?Â¦or you know in your heart your soul you will still stay alive long after the physical form or your body disappears, then I’ll bet you’re also a believer in angels,” wrote Tunick. “I like to believe angels help us throughout our lives. We’ve all heard of miraculous storiesÃ¢Â?Â¦.there are angels on this earth in physical form, too.”
An excerpt from one of Tunick’s columns, “Is There An Angel Sitting On Your Shoulder?” reads:
“I like to believe that our souls live on through eternity. I like to imagine our souls as energy. There are good and bad souls. A thought that comforts me is knowing that if I’m a good person on this earth and I feel confirmation from a silent source that will encourage me to believe my soul will live on forever and ever. You may have had some kind of experience in which you felt the pressure of an unseen soulÃ¢Â?Â¦of someone you knew who passed on.”
In South Florida, Tunick opened a small business in which she wrote, produced, and performed voice messages for businesses such as dental clinics to inform and entertain callers who were stuck on hold.
“I have never seen a relationship between mother and daughter like theirs,” said friend Marcia Shapiro. “They were soul twins.”
The last few columns of Tunick’s were written by her friends and family and the final one was written by her mother, Marilyn.
“You were born on the 13th and you left us on the 13th,” she wrote. “I’ll bet you’re writing a ‘Feel Good’ column at this moment. You are now in God’s hands and He will take care of you. It was time for you to be out of pain and to not suffer any more. I know, Amy, how you would want me to be strongÃ¢Â?Â¦it is very, very difficult but I can hear you say, ‘Mom, it’s okay. So don’t worryÃ¢Â?Â¦I’m okay.”
Marilyn wrote that after Tunick’s death that she reached into a dresser drawer all the way in the back and felt a card which Tunick wrote her on Dec. 19, 2003, just after she started chemotherapy.
Among other sentiments, the card read:
“You are always there for me no matter what. You are absolutely amazing; my friends would have to agree. You deserve an award. The way you care for dad is perfect. Never, never, ever think you’re not doing enough. You may feel frustrated but you’re doing your part. I will always be your strength and be there for you. I love you more than you’ll ever imagine.”
Marilyn told readers that Tunick knows she is now feeling good and making everyone with her feel good.
“I want to thank each and every one of Amy’s wonderful readers for being so compassionate, caring, and supportive,” said Marilyn. “We are compiling the Feel Good columns into a book and as soon as it is ready, will let everyone know. The proceeds will go for pancreatic cancer research. Hopefully a cure will be found for this devastating diseaseÃ¢Â?Â¦.cancer.”
A friend wrote about Tunick: “She once told me she was going to be the person who beat this disease.”
“Although I didn’t know Amy when I read about her brave fight against the formidable pancreatic cancer I cried for her and her family because I knew what they had faced,” said Virginia Griffin, Fort Worth, TX volunteer coordinator for PanCAN (Pancreatic Action Network). “I feel like we are related, all part of the PanCAN family as so many of us feel who come to know one another in dealing with this disease. I was so thankful when I learned they knew about PanCAN.”
Griffin said people could make a difference for others by contacting PanCAN at pancan.org or calling toll-free 1-877-272-6226. She stated that by working with PanCAN, the organization can hopefully educate the public about pancreatic cancer, and through increasing research for an early diagnostic test and more effective treatment, ultimately find a cure.
Griffin lost her brother and her niece in 2002 from the disease.
Tunick, 47, is survived by her parents, Marilyn and Daniel Tunick and her brothers Mark and Ralph, according to her obituary.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to PanCan Action Network or the University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, according to a recent article.
You may send cards and letters to Marilyn Tunick, 1861 NE 198th Terrace, Miami, FL 33179-3118 or email her at email@example.com.
Anyone who wishes to make a donation in memory of Tunick can do so to: PanCAN, 2141 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245 or to the University of Miami, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1192 E. Newport Center Drive, Suite 120, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.