Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Celebrity Cancer

I found a Web site that lists famous people who’ve had breast cancer. The list is compiled by category: movie stars, musicians, royalty, politicians, business executives, etc.

I was astounded by how many celebrities had breast cancer that I’d never known about. Of course, everyone knows about Kylie Minogue and Sheryl Crow because they’ve both spoken quite openly about their cancer.

But not Cynthia Nixon from “Sex and the City”, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, all three original Charlie’s Angels, Olivia Newton John, Koo Stark (soft porn starlet who scandalized the British royal family), Adolph Hitler’s mother, and on and on. And almost all of the women on the list were either still alive or died of something other than cancer.

Granted, they could have died from other things as a result of their cancer treatment, but cancer wasn’t listed as the cause of death. And a lot of these women lived ten, twenty years, even longer after their diagnoses. This is really significant, given that medicine has come a long way in the past few decades. So if someone diagnosed with and treated for cancer 20 years ago can still be alive, then someone who’s diagnosed now has the advantage of medical advancements to live many more years than that.

Of course, it’s not all roses. The Latin Grammy winner, Soraya, died of breast cancer at the age of 37, just seven years after diagnosis.

But I’m keeping close tabs on Kylie, Sheryl, and Lance Armstrong. This month marks the 10-year anniversary of Lance Armstrong’s diagnosis for testicular cancer. They say if you haven’t had a recurrence in ten years, you can consider yourself cured. I hope that’s true for Lance. Not that I know him or think he’s a kind-hearted soul, but because his survival means so much to cancer patients and survivors all over the world. The day Lance Armstrong dies, cancer patients everywhere will be mourning -- not just for him, but for themselves.

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