Pancreatic cancer is no respecter of persons. There are dozens of celebrities with cancer, just as there are dozens more ordinary, everyday, hard-working men and women bearing the same burden. It affects the wealthy, the famous, as well as the poor and common folk.
Over the years a number of well-known celebrities have been diagnosed with the disease. Unfortunately most of them have succombed despite having the money and position to receive the best treatment. Celebrities with cancer find that it makes no difference to the cancer if your face is plastered across the airwaves or if you are a brilliant Nobel Prize winner. Pancreatic cancer is ruthless, color blind and non-discriminatory.
If we know anything, we do know that Pancreatic Cancer research is severely limited by a major lack of funding and awareness. Many other types of cancer are making marked improvement in survival rates, but pancreatic cancer life expectancy statistics have improved little over the past 20 years. I would wish that grim prognosis on no one, famous or not.
However, if there is anything good to come from a celebrity with pancreatic cancer, it is that they help to put a spotlight on this relentless disease. Each time a celebrity is diagnosed with this cancer, it raises the public’s awareness, and hopefully more funding for research and ultimately a cure. Unfortunately, as Randy Pausch once noted, there aren't many celebrity spokespeople for the disease because so few survive long enough to take on that role. It is up to us, the family and friends to step up and make sure their deaths are not in vain.
Pancreatic cancer will affect close to 40,000 people this year. That’s not a lot in the whole scheme of cancers. Breast cancer will touch closer to 280,000 lives and lung cancer will be diagnosed in over 200,000 people. But if you are one of the 40,000 diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than that is one too many. As I have researched this cancer, I have been amazed at just how many well-known, famous individuals have also suffered with this disease. Why haven’t we heard more about it?!
The following is simply a list I have compiled of the people, the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, the celebrities with cancer, specifically pancreatic cancer. Some you may be familiar with, some not. But they all have a story. They are not so different from you and I. Their journey with pancreatic cancer is full of the same fear, anger, hope and struggle as yours...
Celebrities with Pancreatic Cancer
Count Basie, jazz pianist and composer
Jack Benny, comedian
Harry Blackstone, Jr., magician
Johannes Brahms, composer, died of either liver or pancreatic cancer
Joan Crawford, actress
Richard Crenna, actor
Ben Gazzara, actor
Dizzy Gillespie, jazz musician
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice
Charles Grimes, Olympic Gold medalist
Fred Gwynne, actor
Marilyn Horne, opera star
Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder
Bill Kitchen, cartoonist
Michael Landon, actor
Henry Mancini, composer
Laurie Bartram McCauley, actress
Margaret Mead, anthropologist
Luciano Pavarotti, opera singer
Randy Pausch, computer scientist, professor
Dith Pran, “Killing Fields” Survivor
Donna Reed, actress
Alan Rickman, actor
Sally Ride, astronaut
Ralph Steinman, Nobel Prize Winner in medicine
Patrick Swayze, actor
Gene Upshaw, football Hall of Fame Guard
Irving Wallace, author
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