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Determined Dana Reeve Is Back in the Public Eye


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Dana Reeve Was Diagnosed With Lung Cancer 10 Months After Husband's Death

Nov. 18, 2005— For the first time since being diagnosed with lung cancer, Dana Reeve re-emerged into the public eye Thursday to attend the Christopher Reeve Foundation Awards.

"It's very exciting because I think a few months ago I really wasn't sure if I would have energy or the ability to just go out at night," Reeve, 44, told "Good Morning America." "I'm excited to be here for this event, for our event. It's a big night for our foundation, and it's a night that's also just filled with Chris."

Reeve, who succeeded Christopher Reeve as chairperson of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, announced in August that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer just 10 months after the death of her husband.

"It was certainly an unexpected diagnosis because you do think of risk factors, and I don't live in the city, and I don't work in a high-risk environment, and I'm not a smoker," said Reeve, who is a singer. "But the more I've learned about lung cancer is that it really — it's becoming much more random and is striking women who are under 50, who are, you know, non-smokers and not in a risk environment."

One of the hardest things for Reeve was telling her 13-year-old son, Will.

"He was very young when Chris had his accident, and in a way it was almost easier because, well, partly it wasn't me, so I was able to say everything else is fine, we're going to be fine, and you know, Daddy'll be, well, it will be different, but fine," Reeve said. "I've always been his rock, and just following so quickly on the heels of his father's death and my mother's death … It just has been a very rough year on our family."

Reeve also has two stepchildren — Alexandra, who graduated from Yale last May, and Matthew, a documentary filmmaker.

Reeve has undergone five months of chemotherapy so far.

"I'm responding really well, which is great," she said. "The tumor is shrinking, Thank God, and I'm feeling remarkably well. It's been quite a journey, and another journey. I've had enough journeys!"

Reeve said she has about one rough week a month, and said it helped most when people tell her she looks good.

"I think well, OK, if I look so good maybe I'm actually doing as well as I feel," Reeve said.

Reeve looked great at the Christopher Reeve Awards, wearing a wig because she lost her hair during chemotherapy and the foundation's dog tag necklace, with the message "Go Forward." The dog tags are available through the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

"We've launched a number of initiatives in the scientific area," Reeve said. "We also have given money to disabled victims of Hurricane Katrina. We're setting up treadmill walking therapy, — centers all over the country — so that just the paralyzed population at large can access the kind of physical therapy that Chris got so much improvement from."

Last night's event raised $2 million, a foundation spokeswoman said. The guest list included Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Robin Williams and Paul Newman.

Like his mother, Will Reeve has worked to keep his father's memory alive. In May, he won a national award for two poems he wrote — one called "Ole Blue Eyes," which was about his dad, and the other called "While We Walked."

"A poet and an athlete and just an all-around good guy," Reeve said of her son. "He's very much like his dad."

Like Christopher Reeve, Dana Reeve said she was determined to rise above her current challenge and beat cancer. She also wants to sing again.

"I am absolutely going to beat this," Reeve said. "And I plan to sing again. I have enough lung capacity, so … that's my next project."

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