Dana Reeve: I Have Lung Cancer

Dana Reeve: I Have Lung Cancer
Dana Reeve
SLAVEN VLASIC/ABACA PRESS /Newscom

updated 08/08/2005 AT 04:40 PM EDT

originally published 08/09/2005 AT 10:00 AM EDT

Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher Reeve, is suffering from lung cancer, she has announced.

"I have recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, and am currently undergoing treatment," Reeve, 44, says in a statement posted on the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation Wed site. "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," she adds. "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."

Reeve is a nonsmoker, foundation spokeswoman Maggie Goldberg told the Associated Press.

Robin Williams and his wife, who are close with the Reeve family, issued a statement Tuesday, sending "all of our love and support to Dana and her family during this challenging time."

Reeve made her announcement just a day after the world learned that ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, 67, who admitted to having been a heavy smoker over the years, succumbed to lung cancer after a four-month battle against the disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, during 2005 there will be about 172,570 new cases of lung cancer, with an estimated 163,510 deaths expected from the disease – which claims more lives per year than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.

Reeve stoically stood by her husband's side after a May 27, 1995, horse-riding accident left the strapping 6'4" Superman star a quadriplegic. Together, the couple worked tirelessly to raise awareness and money for spinal-cord injuries – with Christopher never relinquishing his belief that innovative medical procedures such as embryonic stem cell research would allow him and millions of others with spinal cord injuries to walk again.

After Chris's death on Oct. 10, 2004, at age 52, Dana assumed his position as head of the New Jersey-based Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. To date, it has awarded $55 million in research grants and $7.5 million in quality-of-life grants.

Dana always reflected the optimism that helped make her husband a national symbol for courage. At a private memorial service for him in November, she said: "It was an ongoing theme for Chris before his accident that he wanted to make a real difference in the world, leave a legacy. He wanted to leave the world a better place for his having lived in it. There is no question that he achieved that goal."

Dana and Christopher have a son, Will, born in 1992.

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