Blythe Danner says she is ‘lucky to be alive’ after battling the same type of cancer that killed her husband
Blythe Danner said she feels ‘lucky to be alive’ after battling oral cancer for years, the same disease that killed her husband, director Bruce Paltrow, nearly 20 years ago.
Lucky to be alive: Blythe Danner said she feels ‘lucky to be alive’ after battling oral cancer for years, the same disease that killed her husband nearly 20 years ago; Seen in 2019
“Everyone gets cancer at some point, but it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer,” said the Will and Grace actress.
She and the duet director were married for 33 years.
Blyth was working in London when he went for a checkup. ‘I started feeling very uncomfortable and I was forgetting everything, and then I felt a lump on my neck right next to where Bruce found her. [in 1999].
‘I remember looking up at the sky and saying to Bruce, “Are you lonely up there?”‘
Oral Cancer: Bruce Paltrow died of oral cancer in 2002 at age 58, not long after this photo was taken with Blythe and 50-year-old daughter Gwyneth Paltrow. The couple was married for 33 years
Unusual: Blythe says it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 54,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year
The American Gods actress didn’t tell anyone about her diagnosis at first, including her children, Oscar winner Paltrow, 50, and director Jake Paltrow, 47.
‘I kept it from my children for a long time. I wanted to move on as a mother, and I didn’t want them to worry,’ she shared.
When the Meet the Parents star finally broke the news to her family, it came as a shock.
“It was scary,” admits Gwyneth. ‘And it felt really awful because it was the same [to my dad’s].’
Scary: When the Meet the Parents star finally broke the news to her family, it was shocking. “It was scary,” admits Gwyneth. ‘And it felt really awful because it was the same [to my dad’s]’
Blythe underwent two surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and alternative treatments to fight the disease.
A third surgery with Dr. Marc Delacour in 2020 removed the remaining cancerous tissue.
‘He went through it with so much grace,’ recalls Gwyneth. ‘I was amazed at how strong he was.’
Grace: Of her mother’s cancer battle, Gwyneth said, ‘She went through it with so much grace. I was amazed at how strong he could be.’ (Photographed in Los Angeles in March 1999)
Reflecting on how her cancer diagnosis has affected her family, the Broadway star said, ‘I think we’ve all gotten stronger somehow. It’s a bit of a crapshoot—this disease and this life. But I have a career, great children and a loving husband. I am very grateful.’
Now in remission, Blythe continues her work to raise awareness about oral cancer, which she has been doing since her husband’s death in 2002.
‘You never get over that kind of loss. Bruce was the heart of our family. And life is much paler around him. But sorrow is the price of love.’
Awareness: Blythe continues her work to raise awareness of oral cancer, which she has been doing since her husband’s death in 2002. ‘You can never get over a loss like this… But grief is the price we pay for love’ (Photographed in Sarasota, FL on April 2019)
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