Niki V. Perry, 38, chef, writer

Niki V. Perry
Niki V. Perry
Posted: July 09, 2011

Niki Vrooman Perry, 38, of South Philadelphia, a chef, writer, and advocate for brain-cancer research, died of the disease Thursday, June 30, at home.

Mrs. Perry was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2006. The cancer was treated with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.

She shared her quest for a cure and her experience with the medical establishment on Internet message boards and as a frequent contributor to a website sponsored by the Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research and Information.

In 2009, Mrs. Perry joined a vaccine trial in Pittsburgh after exhaustive research into treatment options around the country.

At the time, she told The Inquirer, she was so frustrated that doctors wouldn't tell her about hospital trials that she began collecting information for other patients. Though she found the decision process "hugely overwhelming," she saw research as a way to exert control over a frightening situation. "I'm really scared of what I don't understand, so I need to understand it, and I need to feel less helpless," she said.

Mrs. Perry and Debbi Fry became friends after meeting in Hawaii in 2003. "She encouraged me to write and supported me in following my dream," Fry said, "and I just had my debut novel published last month." The novel, Tangled Blood Lines, was written under Fry's pen name, Deborah Noel.

"Niki started a novel, and we collaborated on the plot and twists," Fry said, "and I cannot wait to finish it in her honor."

She was "a warrior, a voice, and a hero" and "an example of integrity and determination," Fry said.

Mrs. Perry wrote eloquently on her blog, "Mutterings of a Madwoman," though she complained that she was unable to be creative after her brain surgery in September 2009.

"My ambitions of the soul seem dried up and shriveled. And what scares me most: I am only feeling sad about the lack, concerned about the loss, in abstract. Unfinished works, unstarted paintings, unopened paints, lay about my room. Sketches never revisited; ideas never reworked."

Mrs. Perry grew up in San Diego. She and her husband, Christopher, lived in Bucks County for four years before moving to Hawaii in 2000. She was a chef at restaurants in Maui before her cancer diagnosis.

She and her husband moved to South Philadelphia in 2008.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Perry is survived by a son, Zachary; a daughter, Devin; and a sister.

A memorial gathering will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 9, at John F. Fluehr & Sons Funeral Home, 3301 Cottman Ave.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or

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