March 7, 2006

Dana Reeve dies of lung cancer

By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dana Reeve, the widow of Christopher
Reeve who nursed the paralyzed "Superman" for nine years until
his death in 2004, has died of lung cancer at the age of 44,
the foundation she headed said on Tuesday.

The Christopher Reeve Foundation, which backs research on
the treatment of spinal cord injuries and helps victims of such
injuries, said Reeve, a nonsmoker and mother of a teenage son,
had died on Monday night.

"The cause was lung cancer," the foundation said.

"On behalf of the entire Board of Directors and staff of
the Christopher Reeve Foundation, we are extremely saddened by
the death of Dana Reeve, whose grace and courage under the most
difficult of circumstances was a source of comfort and
inspiration to all of us," Kathy Lewis, president and CEO of
the foundation, said in a statement.

Reeve devoted herself to her husband after a riding
accident left him paralyzed from the neck down in 1995.
Christopher Reeve, best known for his role in the "Superman"
movies, died in October 2004.

The actress, who put her career on hold to nurse her sick
husband, leaves behind a 13-year-old son named Will.

She is also survived by her father, two sisters and two
stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra.

Reeve's announcement last August that she was suffering
from lung cancer came as a shock because she was a nonsmoker.

Ten to 15 percent of lung cancer victims are nonsmokers and
women in that group are twice as likely to get the disease than
men who don't smoke. Radon gas, passive smoking, genetics and
pollution are some of the causes among nonsmokers.

Reeve succeeded her husband as chair of the Reeve
Foundation in 2004 and she established the organization's
"Quality of Life" initiative to help sufferers with similar
problems as her husband endured.

"After Christopher's death, Dana was determined to preserve
the important work and the legacy of hope that became his
life's mission," Lewis said in the statement.

"Even in our grief, the Foundation must pick up and
continue to Go Forward with this mission."

In a statement after she announced her illness, Reeve
recalled her husband: "Now, more than ever, I feel Chris with
me as I face this challenge," she said in the statement in
August. "As always, I look to him as the ultimate example of
defying the odds with strength, courage and hope in the face of
life's adversities."