According to CNN, Dana Reeve, widow of Christopher Reeve, has died of lung cancer. Dana was 44.
The article states that Dana was being treated with chemo- and radiotherapy at the time of her death. Friends are shocked because Dana had recently received news that her tumor was shrinking.
Chemo- and radiotherapy are first lines of defense against lung cancer. Targeted radiation shrinks the tumor. Chemotherapy both shrinks the tumor and stands as a defense to prevent the disease from spreading. Lung cancer is a fast growing cancer that often spreads to the liver and brain.
The article states that she recently learned she was “failing”. If the tumor stopped responding to radiation, then it’s possible the tumor was too large for the chemotheraphy to work on its own. It’s hard to say just reading between the lines.
I expected this to be my mom’s fate when she started her treatment in 2003. Much to everyone’s surprise, her tumor responded very well to the radiation and chemotherapy. Her tumor started growing again about a year later, just long enough for its threat to move out of your daily orbit. She went on a clinical trial for a few months, but her tumor started growing again. She started a conventional treatment a few months ago, and her tumor shrunk again. Tomorrow she gets the results of her first follow-up C/T scan since her treatment stopped about six weeks ago.
About 5% of small cell lung cancer patients live beyond five years. Lung cancer is more deadly than breast cancer, and many young women are losing their lives to it. My mom turns 50 in October.