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When actress Dana Reeve, widow of Superman star Christopher Reeve, announced Tuesday that she has lung cancer, she noted a familiar source of inspiration.
"Now, more than ever, I feel Chris with me as I face this challenge," Reeve, 44, said in a statement. "I look to him as the ultimate example of defying the odds with strength, courage and hope in the face of life's adversities." Reeve is chairwoman of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
"I have an excellent team of physicians, and we are optimistic about my prognosis. ... I hope before too long to be hearing news of my good health and recovery."
Reeve requested privacy and said she was disclosing the illness only because a tabloid was about to do so. The National Enquirer tabloid broke the news on its website.
Reeve's announcement came two days after ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, 67, died of lung cancer.
Her diagnosis was the latest tragedy to befall the Reeve family.
Her husband of 12 years, actor Christopher Reeve, died Oct. 10 at 52. A horse-riding accident nine years earlier left him paralyzed from the neck down. In February, Dana Reeve's mother, Helen, died from complications of ovarian cancer surgery at age 71.
Comedian Robin Williams and his wife, Marsha, longtime family friends, issued a statement saying that "our family sends all of our love and support to Dana and her family during this challenging time."
Dana Reeve lives in Bedford, N.Y., with her son, Will, 13, the only child from the Reeves' marriage. She has two adult stepchildren, Alexandra and Matthew, from Reeve's earlier relationship with Gae Exton.
After her husband's death, she put her career on hold to run his foundation. Reeve has become a familiar face on Capitol Hill, where she has lobbied for a bill to create the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Act. She has advocated support for stem cell research. She sang on a children's book CD to benefit the foundation.
"Dana Reeve has already faced more than her fair share of adversity, but I know that she will face this latest challenge, as she has the others, with strength, dignity, courage and grace," says Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who has worked with Reeve on several projects.
Last month, Reeve canceled an appearance in Washington with actor Michael J. Fox in support of embryonic stem cell research, citing "family reasons."
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