Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reeve tragedy hits home

I was saddened and a bit emotional this morning when I heard that Dana Reeve passed away last night. Dana, the widow of Christopher Reeve, announced last August that she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She never smoked. She used to work as a singer in clubs where she was exposed to a lot of second-hand smoke.

Ate Bing, a family friend of ours, also died of lung cancer. She never smoked either. Her nephew, whom she sponsored to come here in Canada and lived with her, was a heavy smoker and smoked in the house.

We are now seeing many incidences of lung cancer brought upon not only by first-hand smoke but by second-hand smoke as well.

I am glad that our government has taken actions by banning smoking in enclosed public places.

I’m also glad that schools have taken action as well in teaching even as young as 5th graders the effects of smoking in your body. My children know that their lungs will turn black if they take on the habit of smoking. There are now public advertisements on TV that show us that smoking can cause not only lung cancer but also heart disease, stomach cancer, throat cancer and mouth cancer.

Smoking and lung cancer hits home to me. My father was a heavy smoker. I remember him sending me to the corner store when I was a little girl to buy him a pack of cigarettes. Newport cigarettes, he would tell me. Sometimes he would add, the one with the blue seal.

A few years ago, I was going through my mother’s old photo albums to look for pictures to post in our family website. I noticed that my father was holding a cigarette in his hand in some of his pictures.

My parents separated when I was only 12. I wasn’t really able to spend a lot of time with my father after that. Years of drinking and smoking took a toll on his body. He had a stroke in 1991 and was paralyzed from the neck down. He was also diagnosed with lung cancer. After four months, he died. He was 53.

Dana Reeve was only 44 and was survived by his son, Will - an orphan at 13 years old. My heart breaks for him.

In his 1998 book, “Still Me,” Christopher Reeve recalled that after the accident, when he was contemplating giving up, his wife told him: “I want you to know that I'll be with you for the long haul, no matter what. You're still you. And I love you.”

I had admired Dana for the unwavering love and support she gave her husband after he was paralyzed. She stood there by his side, even giving up her career. And after he died and then she was diagnosed with lung cancer, she still continued to show courage and determination. What a remarkable woman.


Senor Enrique said...

So sorry to hear about your Ate Bing.

What I find surprising is that despite of mass media campaigns about the perils of smoking, I still see many young people doing it (both here in PI and in the States). Reason: they still associate smoking with being "cool."

Jayred said...

What a remarkable woman. Too bad she passed away at a young age (44). I feel for the son Will.... It's kinda traumatic to be orphaned early in life. My husband lost his Mom when he was just 3, and his father when he was 19. I don't really have parents-in-law I can call my own. Although my husband has a step-mom, but it's just not the same.

It's kinda unfair that non-smokers have to suffer from someone else's smoking habit.

We are exposed to a lot of second-hand smoke here in Switzerland. People smoke in restaurants and in bus/tram/train stops. Horrible.

Hsin said...

Dana Reeves was indeed a remarkable woman and it is so sad that their son has had to lose his parents in such a tragic fashion. That said, their heroism is to be admired - they left their son a legacy to be proud of. I always remember Christopher Reeves as Superman, but more of a superman after his accident than while he was making the movies. His wife deserved the Superwoman title.