Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher Reeve who came to prominence as Superman, has succumbed to lung cancer. She was 44.
Reeve was born Dana Morosini in New York City to Charles and Helen Morosini. She graduated cum laude from Middlebury College in 1984.
Ms. Reeve is perhaps best known for her work on behalf of those with spinal cord injuries. Following the tragic horse riding accident that left her husband Christopher Reeve paralyzed for over a decade, Dana Reeve acted as Christopher’s voice. She succeeded Christopher Reeve as Chairman of the Christopher Reeve Foundation (CRF) in 2004 upon Mr. Reeve’s passing following a heart attack.
Though tireless in her work for spinal injury victims, Dana Reeve was also a singer and an actress with stage and television performances to her credit. She was on the board of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey as well as that of the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts at which she met Christopher. Christopher and Dana Reeve were married on April 11, 1992. They had one son together.
Although Dana Reeve was not a smoker, she announced in August 2005 that she was battling lung cancer. Lung cancer among non-smokers is indeed rare; however, MedPage Today (www.medpagetoday.com) reports, “… researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reported last year that a mutation in the epidermal growth factor (EGF) is more common in non-smokers with lung cancer than in smokers. That mutation, they reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, suggests that non-smokers have a distinct form of lung cancer, according to William Pao, M.D. Ph.D., and colleagues.”
According to the American Lung Association (www.lungusa.org), “Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women. An estimated 173,700 new cases of lung cancer and an estimated 160,440 deaths from lung cancer will occur in the United States during 2004.”
There are two major types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common. It usually spreads to different parts of the body more slowly than small cell lung cancer.
Friend, comedian Robin Williams, was quoted, “The brightest light has gone out. We will forever celebrate her [Dana Reeve’s] loving spirit.”
Dana Reeve is survived by her father, Dr. Charles Morosini, sisters Deborah Morosini and Adrienne Morosini Heilman, her son Will and two stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra. Dana Reeve lost her mother to ovarian cancer in 2005.