Blythe Danner’s family is all too familiar with oral cancer: her husband, Bruce Paltrow, succumbed to the disease in 2002.
But the actress, who shared children Gwyneth and Jake with her husband of 33 years, recently revealed that she is in remission after battling the same type of cancer for several years.
The Emmy Award winner told People that she was initially diagnosed in March of 2018 after she “started feeling very woozy.” Danner noted that she was “forgetting everything. And then I felt a lump in my neck, right next to where Bruce had found his” when he was diagnosed in 1999.
“Everyone is touched by cancer in some way, but it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer,” Danner mused. “I remember I looked up at heaven and said to Bruce ‘are you lonely up there?’ It’s a sneaky disease.”
Danner says she kept her diagnosis of adenoid cystic carcinoma from her children “for a long time” because she “didn’t want them to worry.” She received chemotherapy and radiation, and underwent several surgeries, and, in 2020, her third surgery successfully removed the cancerous tissue.
Her daughter Gwyneth says that Danner “went through it with so much grace. I was amazed at how strong she was able to be,” though she admitted that when her mother first told her about her diagnosis she was “obviously very shocked. It was scary. And it felt really eerie because it was so similar” to her father’s illness.
Danner said that after her husband’s death and her own battle with the same cancer that took his life, she thinks “we've all become somehow stronger. It's a bit of a crapshoot — this disease and this life. But I've had a career, great kids and a loving husband. I'm very grateful.”