I want to be sensitive about this because I am truly saddened by the loss of Dana Reeve, who showed extraordinary courage and grace through her husband’s paralysis, only to be struck with lung cancer a year after his death. Back in my days at ICM, way way back, I had the opportunity to chat with her regularly, and she was very obviously a lovely person – she even tried to help me get a teaching job at one point, and we didn’t know each other well at all. It’s hard not to hurt for their kid, who’s now lost both his parents at such a young age.
What I suspected years ago, after my mother died from this same form of lung cancer, has now come to pass, which is this: until a famous nonsmoker dies from lung cancer, the primary directive for lung cancer prevention will continue to be “don’t smoke.” I concur wholeheartedly that smoking is bad. I’ve witnessed firsthand that kind of lung cancer as well. It’s ugly. But my mom discovered her lung cancer quite by accident, only because she broke her hip, and people don’t tend to get tested for things like lung cancer when they feel completely fine, and are passionate non-smokers as my mother was, and especially when they are sold this message that lung cancer can be prevented simply by not smoking.
So now the media is talking about it, and it’s a little bit of a bummer, because what I’m thinking is that if anyone had actually looked at the statistics, let’s say when some other celebrity died decades ago, they might have talked about it before tens of thousands of people died from it, not just one famous one.
Bitter? A little, but sad and scared is more like it. For sixteen different reasons.