Blythe Danner Reveals Private Battle With The Same Cancer That Killed Her Husband Bruce Paltrow: ‘I Feel Lucky To Be Alive’

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/TBEN/Shutterstock (10075713e) Blythe Danner poses for a portrait to promote the film

Taylor Jewell/Invision/TBEN/Shutterstock Blythe Dancer

This year, the holidays will be a little sweeter for Blythe Danner, who reveals for the first time that she’s in remission after a years-long battle with oral cancer, the same disease that killed her beloved husband Bruce Paltrow in 2002.

“Everyone is affected by cancer in some way, but it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer,” said Danner, 79, who is mother to Gwyneth Paltrow, 50, and Jake Paltrow, 47. was diagnosed, “I remember looking up at the sky and saying to Bruce, ‘Are you lonely up there?'” she says. “It’s a sneaky disease. But I feel fine and dandy now. And I’m lucky to be alive.’

Danner, an Emmy-winning actress known for her roles in Meet the parents and further Will and grace, was working in London in 2018 when “I started feeling really dizzy and forgot everything,” she recalls. And then I felt a lump in my neck right next to where Bruce had found his [in 1999].”

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She was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a relatively rare form of oral cancer that often develops in the salivary glands. “I hid it from my kids for a long time,” says Danner. “I wanted to move forward as a mother and I didn’t want them to worry.”

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When she finally told her daughter, “Obviously I was very shaken,” Gwyneth recalled. “It was scary. And it felt really creepy because it was so similar [to my dad’s].”

But Danner didn’t stop. And after two previous surgeries and several years of research into alternative treatments, the actress underwent a third surgery in 2020 with Dr. Mark DeLacure, who succeeded in removing the cancerous tissue.

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“She went through it with such grace,” says Gwyneth. “I was amazed at how strong she could be.”

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 02: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Gwyneth Paltrow and mom Blythe Danner pose backstage at the opening night of

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 02: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Gwyneth Paltrow and mom Blythe Danner pose backstage at the opening night of

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic Gwyneth Paltrow and Blythe Danner

For more on Blythe’s cancer journey, grab the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

During her journey, which included radiation and chemotherapy, “I wasn’t shaking in my boots,” says Danner. “I have no fear of death at all.”

The grandmother of four says her view of mortality changed dramatically after the death of Bruce, to whom she had been married for 33 years.

“You never get over a loss like that,” says Danner. “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.”

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October 3, 2003 --FILE PHOTO Bruce Paltrow and Blythe danner at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Performers Nominee Reception September 19, 2002. Photo by: Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging (Photo by Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic)

October 3, 2003 –FILE PHOTO Bruce Paltrow and Blythe danner at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Performers Nominee Reception September 19, 2002. Photo by: Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging (Photo by Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic)

Mathew Imaging/Film Magic Bruce Paltrow and Blythe Danner in 2022

Today, Danner surrounds herself with family — “nothing makes me happier than the kids,” she says — as well as her advocacy for the Oral Cancer Foundation, which strives to raise awareness of oral and oropharyngeal cancers, affecting an estimated 54,000 Americans each year. diagnosed.

“Screening for the early signs by a dentist is quick, cheap and painless,” says the Foundation’s executive director Brian Hill, who also advocates vaccinating children against HPV, a virus that can cause cancer in the mouth.

Danner says, reflecting on Bruce’s death and her own struggles, “I think we’ve all gotten stronger in some way. It’s a bit of a mess – this disease and this life. But I’ve had a career , wonderful children and a loving husband. I am very grateful.”

For more information, please contact the Oral Cancer Foundation.