Blythe Danner feels “lucky to be alive” after privately battling oral cancer, the Will & Grace actress told People in an interview published Monday, November 21. Her late husband, Bruce Paltrow, died from the same disease in 2002 at the age of 58.
“Everyone is touched by cancer in some way, but it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer,” Blythe, 79, said. “I remember I looked up at heaven and said to Bruce, ‘Are you lonely up there?'”
The Meet the Parents star was first diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma in March 2018 after feeling “woozy” while working in London. She called it “a sneaky disease” but explained she is “fine and dandy now” after undergoing three surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. One of the most difficult parts of her cancer journey was revealing her diagnosis to her two children, Gwyneth and Jake Paltrow.
“She went through it with so much grace,” Gwyneth, 50, reflected on her mother’s private battle. “I was amazed at how strong she was able to be.”
Days ahead of sharing details about her diagnosis and recovery with the world, the Tony winner spent some quality time with her daughter in New Orleans. Gwyneth shared photos from the trip on Instagram ahead of her cousin’s wedding. In one snap, the mother-daughter duo wore matching blue ensembles as they sipped on beverages.
Blythe and both of her children grew even closer after Bruce’s death. He had been diagnosed with oral cancer in 1999 and succumbed to the illness and pneumonia three years later during Gwyneth’s 30th birthday celebration in Rome. Two decades after his death, Gwyneth opened up about dealing with grief.
“The first year was just beyond — I don’t know how we all got through it, my mother, my brother and I,” the Iron Man actress said during an April 2022 episode of the “By the Light of the Moon” podcast. “It was pretty messed up. Anyone will tell you, who loses a love of their life like that, there’s just no other way but through. You just try to process your grief and keep going.”
Blythe has also been very open about navigating life after losing her spouse. The film icon revealed the important life lesson she learned after Bruce’s death in a February 2018 interview with Closer.
“Keep going,” she said at the time. “Put one foot in front of the other and keep going.”