"It was scary. And it felt really eerie because it was so similar to my dad's," daughter Gwyneth Paltrow said about her mom's cancer diagnosis.
Blythe Danner, the 79-year-old actress of Will and Grace, is finally speaking out about her oral cancer diagnosis; the same disease that killed her beloved husband, Bruce Paltrow, in 2002. "Everyone is touched by cancer in some way, but it's unusual for a couple to have the same type of cancer," said Danner, who is also the mother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, 50, and director Jake Paltrow, 47. Fortunately, she is in remission now after a years-long battle against the disease.
The Emmy award-winning Danner was reportedly diagnosed in March 2018. "I remember I looked up at heaven and said to Bruce, 'Are you lonely up there?'" she said, reports PEOPLE. "It's a sneaky disease. But I'm fine and dandy now. And I'm lucky to be alive."
Danner is mostly known for her famous roles in hit movies such as Meet the Parents (2000) and 1998’s American sitcom Will & Grace. In 2018, the actress revealed, she was in London for work when she "started feeling dizzy and kept forgetting everything."
"And then I felt a lump in my neck, right next to where Bruce had found his in 1999," Danner recalled. Soon after, she was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare type of oral cancer that develops in the salivary glands. Danner admits that she hid the truth about her deteriorating health from her children for a long time. "I wanted to forge ahead as a mother, and I didn't want them to worry," she said.
She finally revealed the truth about her cancer diagnosis to her daughter Gwyneth. The Iron Man actress recounts, "I was obviously very shocked. It was scary. And it felt really eerie because it was so similar to my dad's. She went through it with so much grace. I was amazed at how strong she was able to be."
However, Danner claims that she "wasn't afraid of death" and she chose not to dwell on it. The veteran actress who had to undergo chemotherapy, radiation, two surgeries, and several years of alternative treatments said, "I wasn't quaking in my boots. I don't have any fear of death at all." Danner underwent a third surgery in 2020 which was performed by Dr. Mark DeLacure and the operation successfully removed the cancerous tissue.
Danner, who is a grandmother to four grandchildren, revealed that her views on mortality changed dramatically when her husband of 33 years passed away. "You never get over that kind of loss," she said. "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."
"I think we've all become somehow stronger. But I've had a career, great kids, and a loving husband. I'm very grateful," the 79-year-old said.
These days, Danner prefers to be in the company of her family and she has also teamed up with Oral Cancer Foundation to continue with her advocacy work which aims to raise awareness of oral and oropharyngeal cancers. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, approximately 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Brian Hill, the executive director of the foundation, has been advocating for vaccinating children against HPV, a virus that can cause cancers in the mouth. "Screening for the early signs by a dental professional is quick, inexpensive, and painless," he said.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Vince Bucci