Devoted Wife of "Superman" Christopher Reeve, Dana Reeve -- a life-long non-smoker -- died from lung cancer at the young age of 44.
Dana is perhaps best remembered as the wife of Christopher Reeve, remaining faithfully at his side after a horseback riding accident left him quadriplegic only 3 years into their marriage. Yet, Dana was a star in her own right. As an actress and singer, she was seen on and off Broadway and guest-starred in TV programs such as "Law and Order." Dana graduated from Middlebury College and also attended the California Institute of the Arts.In October of 2004, her husband passed away, leaving Dana a widow and the surviving parent of their 11-year old son. The following year, she was awarded the American Cancer Society's "Mother of the Year Award" for the devoted care of her son after the loss of her husband.
After seeking medical treatment for a cough that had lasted nearly a year, on August 9, 2005, Dana announced that she had lung cancer. Her tumor was inoperable, but after receiving chemotherapy and radiation therapy she was very encouraged that her cancer was shrinking. Her improvement was sadly short-lived, and Dana passed away on March 6, 2006 -- 7 months after her diagnosis.
In a statement to Kathie Lee Gifford, Reeve said, "What I didn't know is that lung cancer is the number one cancer. We're always looking for breast and ovarian and uterine, and I'm a non-smoker, and I live in the country, so I think 'I'm good'...I was completely shocked."
Speculation ran rampant about why a young, never-smoking woman would develop lung cancer. Surely Dana was exposed to secondhand smoke, but we may never know why her cancer struck. Fitting with the words of wisdom she left behind, "life isn't always fair, and you'd better stop expecting it to be."
Dana left behind a 13-year-old son in the hands of family and friends, and the foundation that she put so much passion into. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation provides support for those living with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.