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Blythe Danner says she's 'lucky to be alive' after battling the same type of cancer that killed her husband -
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Lucky to be alive: Blythe Danner said she felt

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

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

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

An estimated 54,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

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

“Everyone is affected by cancer in one way or another, but it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer,” the Will and Grace actress said.

She and the Duets director were married for 33 years.

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

“I remember looking up at the sky and saying to Bruce, ‘Are you alone up there?’

Oral cancer: Bruce Paltrow died of oral cancer in 2002 at the age of 58, shortly after this photo was taken with Blythe and his daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, 50.  The couple have been married for 33 years

Oral cancer: Bruce Paltrow died of oral cancer in 2002 at the age of 58, shortly after this photo was taken with Blythe and his daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, 50. The couple have been married for 33 years

Unusual: Blythe says it's unusual for a couple to have the same cancer.  An estimated 54,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation

Unusual: Blythe says it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer. An estimated 54,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation

The American Gods actress didn’t initially tell anyone, including her children, Oscar-winning actress Paltrow, 50, and director Jake Paltrow, 47, about her diagnosis.

“I hid it from my kids for a long time. I wanted to move on 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 was a shock.

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

Blythe underwent two surgeries, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and alternative treatments to fight the disease.

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

“She walked through it with so much grace,” Gwyneth recalled. “I was amazed at how strong she was able to be.”

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

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

Reflecting on how her cancer diagnosis affected her family, the Broadway star said, “I think we all got stronger. It’s a bit of a dice game – this disease and this life. But I had a career, great kids, and a loving husband. I’m very grateful.’

Now in remission, Blythe continues her work to raise awareness of oral cancer, which she has done since her husband died in 2002.

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

Raising awareness: Blythe continues her work to raise awareness about oral cancer, which she has done since her husband died in 2002.

Raising awareness: Blythe continues her work to raise awareness about oral cancer, which she has done since her husband’s death in 2002. “You never get over this kind of loss… But grief is the price we let’s pay for love” (Photographed in Sarasota, FL in April 2019)

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