Wednesday, March 08, 2006

RIP Superwoman

What a heartbreaking shame, the passing of Dana Reeve of lung cancer. It's almost too much, although these things happen to ordinary people out of the spotlight of celebrity every day. Tragedy follows tragedy and we never hear a thing about it if the tragedies befall a person less fair and less gifted.

I think about the son left behind by both of these super parents and a grandparent; who will guide him through this horrible time? He's already deep in the throes of puberty, painful enough for the average American child. Will the super-ness of his parents help? or will he suffer even more for it? I pray for the best.

But I pray for others now; with Dana's passing, a niggling question at the back of my mind grows louder. We lost Peter Jennings to lung cancer, and no one thought much of the cause because of his history of smoking. We also lost Don Knotts to lung cancer, and no one thought much of it because he was in his eighties. Memory fails me at this point, but I believe there've been other celebrities who've succumbed to lung cancer in the last couple of years.

How many of them were in New York City during or post-9/11? And are there others who have been or are being treated for lung cancer even now?

Just a niggling thought.

Comments:
http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/content/full/55/1/10

You might find that article interesting in terms of some wider perspective, either supportive or not supportive of your niggling thought.

It's not surprising to me, given the incidence of this type of cancer in the North American population and the world, that celebrities would die of it as well, given how many people are in the public eye.

My grandfather is currently in the throes of lung cancer -- he smoked until he was 29 when he had his FIRST incidence then. Now he's 82, which pretty much puts him off the cancer statistic radar for relapse.

One thing that is notable about lung cancer is that it often masquerades as a different form of respiratory ailment until doctors decide to do different tests. I'm asthmatic and prone to bronchial pneumonia, and I'm willing to be that if I showed the same symptoms my non-asthmatic grandpa did, they'd assume I was dealing with the same thing I always was without taking pictures. I'd likely find out it was cancer far too late to treat it if so, which is why I always have to ask for them to take a look.

People don't think they can get lung cancer unless they smoke, either. Many women doing breast exams and going for paps wouldn't think to get their lungs checked out if they had some breathing issues, especially if they lived in a polluted area, suffered from respiratory ailments like mine, or had allergies.

Just some food for thought.
 
Yeah, I hear you, Meg. My own grandfather died of emphysema and heart disease, brought on by a life-time of smoking. Many other family members died at least a decade early because of smoking at some point in their lives if not all of their adult lives. It's not just cancer that will end lives prematurely when cigarettes are involved. And there's always the risk of other non-smoking causes - my mother has a small mass we are watching, probably due to foreign object inhaled followed by exposure to a nasty bug while she was working in the ER. Might never do anything, but who can say...

In the case of entertainers specifically, many of them may have smoked or been exposed to smoke, increasing their odds of cancer. But many of them also were in NYC after 9/11, when air quality was horrible. We won't hear about the residents who may experience an increased rate of cancer and other breathing ailments because of this unusual exposure; the Feds hid much of the information citizens should have had to protect themselves. I wonder if the only indication we will have that there is a problem, a possible cluster, is an increased number of celebrities who came and went out of NYC in autumn 2001 -- at least until the Bush Adminstration is history.
 
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