Blythe Danner feels 'lucky to be alive' after battling same form of cancer that killed her husband

Actress Blythe Danner revealed that she privately fought and survived cancer, the same kind that killed her husband, the late Bruce Paltrow, in 2002.

"Everyone is touched by cancer in some way, but it's unusual for a couple to have the same cancer," Danner, 79, told PEOPLE. "I remember I looked up at heaven and said to Bruce, 'Are you lonely up there?'" she added. "It's a sneaky disease. But I'm fine and dandy now. And I'm lucky to be alive."

Danner, known for roles in Meet the Parents and Will & Grace, divulged that she was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare form of oral cancer that develops in the salivary glands, in March 2018. She was working in London when "I started feeling very woozy and I was forgetting everything," she said. "And then I felt a lump in my neck, right next to where Bruce had found his."

Blythe Danner poses for a portrait to promote the film "The Tomorrow Man" at the Salesforce Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah 2019 Sundance Film
Blythe Danner poses for a portrait to promote the film "The Tomorrow Man" at the Salesforce Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah 2019 Sundance Film

Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock Blythe Danner reveals she privately battled the same kind of oral cancer that killed her husband.

Paltrow was diagnosed with the same condition in 1999. He died in 2002 while traveling through Italy to celebrate his daughter Gwyneth Paltrow's 30th birthday.

The star didn't want to tell her children, including son Jake Paltrow, because she "didn't want them to worry."

"I was obviously very shocked," Gwyneth recalled of when she eventually found out. "It was scary. And it felt really eerie because it was so similar [to my dad's]."

Danner underwent two early surgeries, and after exploring alternative treatments, she had a third surgery in 2020 that effectively removed the cancerous tissue.

Danner was semi-recently seen on screen as the goddess Demeter in Starz's American Gods. She's also the voice of Grandma Jones on the Netflix animated kids series Ridley Jones.

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