Blythe Danner says she’s ‘lucky to be alive’ after battling same kind of cancer that killed husband

‘I am lucky to be alive!’: Gwyneth Paltrow’s mother Blythe Danner, 79, shares she battled the same cancer that killed her husband Bruce Paltrow

  • Blythe Danner said she feels ‘lucky to be alive’ after battling oral cancer 
  • It is the same disease that killed her husband, director Bruce Paltrow 
  • An estimated 54 thousand people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year 
  • ‘Everyone is touched by cancer in some way, but it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer,’ the Will and Grace actress said
  • She and the Duets director were marred for 33 years

Blythe Danner said she feels ‘lucky to be alive’ after battling oral cancer for several years, the same disease that killed her husband, director Bruce Paltrow, some 20 years ago. 

The Emmy winning actress, 79 – whose daughter is Gwyneth Paltrow – has told People she was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease, adenoid cystic carcinoma, which often forms in the salivary glands, in 2018.

An estimated 54 thousand people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.   

Lucky to be alive: Blythe Danner said she feels 'lucky to be alive' after battling oral cancer for several years, the same disease that killed her husband some 20 years ago; seen in 2019

Lucky to be alive: Blythe Danner said she feels ‘lucky to be alive’ after battling oral cancer for several years, the same disease that killed her husband some 20 years ago; seen in 2019

‘Everyone is touched by cancer in some way, but it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer,’ the Will and Grace actress said. 

She and the Duets director were marred for 33 years. 

Blythe was working in London when she went for a checkup. ‘I started feeling very woozy and I was forgetting everything, and then I felt a lump in my neck, right next to where Bruce had found his [in 1999].

‘I remember I looked up at heaven and said to Bruce, “Are you lonely up there?”‘

Oral cancer: Bruce Paltrow died from oral cancer in 2002 at the age of 58, not long after this photo was taken with Blythe and daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, 50. The couple were married for 33 years

Oral cancer: Bruce Paltrow died from oral cancer in 2002 at the age of 58, not long after this photo was taken with Blythe and daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, 50. The couple were married for 33 years

Unusual: Blythe says it's unusual for a couple to have the same cancer. An estimated 54 thousand people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation

Unusual: Blythe says it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer. An estimated 54 thousand people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation

The American Gods actress didn’t tell anyone, including her children, Oscar winner Paltrow, 50, and director Jake Paltrow, 47, about her diagnosis, at first. 

‘I kept it from my kids for a long time. I wanted to forge ahead as a mother, and I didn’t want them to worry,’ she shared.

When the Meet The Parents star finally broke the news to her family, it came as a shock. 

“It was scary,’ admitted Gwyneth. ‘And it felt really eerie because it was so similar [to my dad’s].’

Scary: When the Meet the Parents star finally broke the news to her family, it came as a shock. "It was scary,' admitted Gwyneth. 'And it felt really eerie because it was so similar [to my dad's]'

Scary: When the Meet the Parents star finally broke the news to her family, it came as a shock. “It was scary,’ admitted Gwyneth. ‘And it felt really eerie because it was so similar [to my dad’s]’

Blythe underwent two surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and alternative treatments to combat the disease. 

A third surgery in 2020 with Dr. Mark DeLacure removed the remaining cancerous tissue. 

‘She went through it with so much grace,’ recalled Gwyneth. ‘I was amazed at how strong she was able to be.’

Grace: Of her mother's cancer battle, Gwyneth said, 'She went through it with so much grace. I was amazed at how strong she was able to be.' (Pictured in Los Angeles in March 1999)

Grace: Of her mother’s cancer battle, Gwyneth said, ‘She went through it with so much grace. I was amazed at how strong she was able to be.’ (Pictured in Los Angeles in March 1999)

When reflecting on how her cancer diagnosis has affected her family, the Broadway star said, ‘I think 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.’ 

Now in remission, Blythe has been continuing her work to raise awareness of oral cancer, something she has been doing since her husband’s death in 2002. 

‘You never get over that kind of loss. Bruce was the heart of our family. And life is so much paler without him around. But grief is the price we pay for love.’ 

Awareness: Blythe has been continuing her work to raise awareness of oral cancer, something she has been doing since her husband's death in 2002. 'You never get over that kind of loss... But grief is the price we pay for love'  (Pictured in Sarasota, FL in April 2019)

Awareness: Blythe has been continuing her work to raise awareness of oral cancer, something she has been doing since her husband’s death in 2002. ‘You never get over that kind of loss… But grief is the price we pay for love’  (Pictured in Sarasota, FL in April 2019)

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