Noteworthy Human Interest Story

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Noteworthy Human Interest Story

Post by Ted » Tue Aug 09, 2005 9:53 am

In the wake of Peter Jennings Death due to Lung Cancer I thought this story was sadly topical:

Wife of Christopher Reeve announces she has lung cancer

NEW YORK -- Dana Reeve, who spent nine years caring for her paralyzed husband, Christopher Reeve, until his death last year, announced Tuesday that she has lung cancer.

Reeve, 44, said she decided to disclose her illness following rumors about her health in the media.
"I have recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, and am currently undergoing treatment," Reeve said in a statement. "I have an excellent team of physicians, and we are optimistic about my prognosis."

"Now, more than ever, I feel Chris with me as I face this challenge," Reeve said. "As always, I look to him as the ultimate example of defying the odds with strength, courage and hope in the face of life's adversities."

Christopher Reeve, the onetime Hollywood "Superman" turned activist for spinal cord research after a horse-riding accident, died Oct. 10, 2004.

Dana Reeve, an actress, was a constant companion and supporter of her husband during his long ordeal and his work for a cure for spinal cord injuries.

She is chairwoman of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, which funds research on paralysis and works to improve the life of the disabled. To date, it has awarded $55 million in research grants and $7.5 million in quality of life grants.

She was performing in the Broadway-bound play "Brooklyn Boy" in California when she had to streak home to reach her husband's bedside before he died. She gave up the role for the New York run.

Their son, Will, is 13 years old.

http://www.nynewsday.com/news/local/wir ... -apnewyork

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Post by Ralph » Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:03 pm

I almost cried when I heard this earlier today. My non-rational feeling was simply, this is so unfair.
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:28 pm

With all respect to the human feelings involved here, and noting the possibility that some lung cancers, especially in women, are in fact not caused by smoking, I will note that I heard a radio feature on the tobacco industry and obituaries, prompted by the death of Peter Jennings, whose cancer can hardly have been metastasized breast cancer. It seems that the reason they don't say "he was a heavy smoker for many years" is that every time they do that they get a barrage from the tobacco people. (Why the press doesn't feel free just to not give a rat's behind about what tobacco has to say about obituaries was not made clear.)

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Post by Ralph » Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:41 pm

If no one ever smoked or was exposed to second-hand smoke there still would be primary lung tumors. But not THAT many nor, necessarily, that virulent.
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:50 pm

If I were the immediate survivor of a famous person who died of lung cancer and it was not related to smoking, I'd want to preserve the image of my dear departed by making that fact known. I'm sure everyone has noticed that even in the most shocking cases (Joe DiMaggio died of what?), this never happens.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Aug 09, 2005 4:05 pm

Ralph wrote:I almost cried when I heard this earlier today. My non-rational feeling was simply, this is so unfair.
Why, Ralph, you ol' softie. Another reason to be proud to know you. I may rag on SNAGs for their blockheaded ideas about foreign policy, but when they can cry about a woman getting lung cancer, well, I think there's no higher quality in a gentleman.
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 09, 2005 4:25 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
Ralph wrote:I almost cried when I heard this earlier today. My non-rational feeling was simply, this is so unfair.
Why, Ralph, you ol' softie. Another reason to be proud to know you. I may rag on SNAGs for their blockheaded ideas about foreign policy, but when they can cry about a woman getting lung cancer, well, I think there's no higher quality in a gentleman.
What is a SNAG? I need to know because I'm probably one too.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Aug 09, 2005 4:25 pm

Did somebody authoritative say that Jennings died of metastasized breast cancer?
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Aug 09, 2005 4:28 pm

jbuck919 wrote:What is a SNAG? I need to know because I'm probably one too.
Why, I most certainly was convinced that you were a SNAG, John. (Sensitive New Age Guy). Some ingrates claim that boomer women created the SNAG and then decided they didn't really like him after all. I really do like them. I just don't want them running DoD or American foreign policy. But otherwise, SNAGs are the pinnacle of western achievement.
Last edited by Corlyss_D on Tue Aug 09, 2005 4:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 09, 2005 4:29 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Did somebody authoritative say that Jennings died of metastasized breast cancer?
You have misunderstood. I meant that there was no doubt about the cause of Jennings' cancer, i.e., smoking, where there is a small number of lung cancers that are either metastatic (often from breast cancer in women), or, as Ralph pointed out, primary without being smoking related.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Aug 09, 2005 4:33 pm

jbuck919 wrote: I meant that there was no doubt about the cause of Jennings' cancer, i.e., smoking, where there is a small number of lung cancers that are either metastatic (often from breast cancer in women), or, as Ralph pointed out, primary without being smoking related.
Oh, I got it now. I thought I had heard quite a few reports that he was a heavy smoker, had given it up at one time but picked it up again after 9/11. I guess we could say he was a late on-set victim of 9/11. Since breast cancer in men is an extremely stealthy disease, I assumed it could have the same metatastacy targets as women, i.e., brain, lung, bone, and liver, and if he had had breast cancer, it could have landed up in the lung.
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Post by Ralph » Tue Aug 09, 2005 5:38 pm

I ain't no SNAG. I don't even drink the stuff.
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Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:19 pm

I must say that the general connotations of "new age" do not apply to me.

And as for "soft" men making foreign policy, it was men consciously trying not to appear "soft" who gave us the nuclear arms race and the Vietnam War.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:21 pm

Ralph wrote:I ain't no SNAG.
You can't help it.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:25 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I must say that the general connotations of "new age" do not apply to me.
I admit it's a bit of a stretch with a classical scholar.
it was men consciously trying not to appear "soft" who gave us the nuclear arms race
Where'd you get that idea?
and the Vietnam War.
I don't agree. It was one paranoid guy trying to win a landslide election because he was so insecure about following the most beloved (if wrongly so) president of the post-war generation. (Before someone mistakes Johnson for Nixon again, let me say I'm speaking of Johnson.)
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Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:26 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I must say that the general connotations of "new age" do not apply to me.
I admit it's a bit of a stretch with a classical scholar.
it was men consciously trying not to appear "soft" who gave us the nuclear arms race
Where'd you get that idea?
and the Vietnam War.
I don't agree. It was one paranoid guy trying to win a landslide election because he was so insecure about following the most beloved (if wrongly so) president of the post-war generation. (Before someone mistakes Johson for Nixon again, let me say I'm speaking of Johnson.)
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Post by jbuck919 » Thu Aug 11, 2005 5:37 am

For everyone's information, I saw a brief item in the NY Times yesterday which stated specifically that Dana Reeve was not a smoker.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:35 am

jbuck919 wrote:For everyone's information, I saw a brief item in the NY Times yesterday which stated specifically that Dana Reeve was not a smoker.
*****

That's good but I wonder how much second-hand smoke she was exposed to in her life.

In any event I hope the prognosis is good-she deserves a very long life.
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Post by Ralph » Thu Aug 11, 2005 8:54 am

Nonsmokers can be cancer victims, too
Dana Reeve situation isn't as uncommon as it would seem

(AP) -- Most lung cancers occur in smokers, but nonsmoker Dana Reeve's situation isn't as uncommon as it appears.

Like Reeve, widow of "Superman" star Christopher Reeve, 1 in 5 women diagnosed with the disease never lit a cigarette, doctors say. Yet they share an unfortunate stigma with cancer patients who smoked.

"The underlying assumption is, you were a smoker and you caused this, therefore you're not going to get my sympathy," said Tom Labrecque Jr., who started a foundation to raise awareness after his nonsmoker father died several years ago of the disease.

No one "deserves" lung cancer, doctors say. But nonsmokers do have one silver lining: They respond better to the newest targeted cancer drugs like Iressa and Tarceva.

That's because people who get lung cancer early in life, like the 44-year-old Reeve, are more likely to have genetic factors fueling their disease, doctors say. Only 3 percent of lung cancers occur in people under 45, regardless of smoking status.

Reeve, an actress who leads a paralysis research foundation named for her husband who died last year, disclosed Tuesday that she was being treated for lung cancer but gave no details on how or where.

Her announcement came two days after ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, a smoker, died of lung cancer at age 67.

Despite their different smoking histories, they share the most common cancer in the world, and the deadliest. This year in the United States, an estimated 93,010 men and 79,560 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer and almost an equal number -- 90,490 men and 73,020 women -- will die of it.

About 10 percent of men and 20 percent of women with lung cancer never smoked, and the number of nonsmokers with the disease doesn't seem to be rising significantly, said Dr. Michael Thun, chief epidemiologist for the American Cancer Society.

But awareness may be on the rise because of the aggressive anti-smoking campaigns in recent years. And stigma may be rising, too.

"When people get breast cancer, people say, 'What can I do to help you?' When people get lung cancer, people say, 'Did you smoke?"' said Susan Mantel, executive director of Joan's Legacy, a fund-raising group named for Joan Scarangello, a nonsmoker and former head writer for newsman Tom Brokaw. Scarangello died in 2001 of lung cancer, as did her nonsmoking mother before her.

"There is a definite stigma," said Labrecque, recalling comments after the funeral for his father, a former chairman of Chase Manhattan Corp.

"People would say, 'I didn't know he smoked,"' he said.

His foundation's Web site even acknowledges this trend, by stating that more than half of people newly diagnosed with lung cancer each year have either never smoked or quit smoking.

Doctors who treat the disease, like Dr. Bruce Johnson of Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston, bristle at the notion of "innocent" and "not so innocent" victims.

"People who smoke don't deserve to get lung cancer, and people have worked very hard to quit," he said.

Nonsmokers who have surgery for their cancer have a lower risk of developing a second tumor than smokers. Also, smokers who quit after cancer surgery have better survival odds, he noted.

Nonsmokers also respond better to Iressa and Tarceva, said Dr. Alan Sandler, director of thoracic oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, who has been involved in testing these new-generation drugs that more precisely attack the molecular factors making these cancers grow.

"The malignant cell in a smoker is much more complex" and has more mutations than nonsmokers tend to have, Sandler said.

Researchers now are studying whether nonsmokers do better in general on chemotherapy than smokers, he said.

Meanwhile, the cancer society is hoping for an eventual decline in lung cancer cases to mirror the decline in smoking rates.

"Cigarette consumption is down where it was at the start of World War II. About 1 in 5 people are current smokers," Thun said.

"Lung cancer death rates have fallen 17 percent in men from 1990 to 2002. Both incidence and death rates have leveled off in women, so we are turning the corner."

As for stigma, he would rather see it on those who sell cigarettes than those who use them.

"If there's blame to go around, most of the blame falls on the tobacco companies," Thun said.
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