15 Celebs, VIPs Who Fought Pancreatic Cancer

Sally Ride, Patrick Swayze, others brought awareness to disease

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 25, 2012 9:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Pancreatic cancer is back in the spotlight for a very sad reason—Sally Ride’s death. The Huffington Post takes a look at 14 other celebrities and VIPs who’ve brought awareness to the disease, which is often devastating due to its tendency to go undetected for so long:

  • Patrick Swayze: He was diagnosed in January 2008 and died in September 2009, age 57. During that time, he asked Congress for more funding to fight cancer. Now, his wife continues to work with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
  • Randy Pausch: He became famous after giving his last lecture in September 2007, after he was diagnosed. The lecture went viral, then was turned into a book. He died in July 2008.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Supreme Court justice survived colon cancer, so she gets routine CT scans yearly. That’s how she learned of the tumor on her pancreas in 2009—and that’s probably why she’s still alive today.

  • Luciano Pavarotti: The opera singer was diagnosed in July 2006 and had a mass removed—apparently successfully—but he died in September 2007.
  • Donna Reed: The Dynasty actress died of pancreatic cancer within six weeks of her diagnosis.
  • Dizzy Gillespie: The jazz icon died of his illness, but the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund and the Dizzy Gillespie Cancer Institute were formed in his name.
  • Michael Landon: After being diagnosed, he told LIFE magazine, “If I’m gonna die, death’s gonna have to do a lot of fighting to get me.” He died at age 54.
Click for the complete list.

This undated photo released by NASA shows astronaut Sally Ride. Ride, the first American woman in space, died Monday, July 23, 2012 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 61.
This undated photo released by NASA shows astronaut Sally Ride. Ride, the first American woman in space, died Monday, July 23, 2012 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 61.   (AP Photo/NASA, File)
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