Making her first public appearance since announcing in August that she’s suffering from lung cancer, Dana Reeve said Thursday, “I feel great.”
Speaking at “A Magical Evening,” the annual fund-raising gala for the Christopher Reeve Foundation in New York City, Reeve, 44, dressed in a floor-length Dolce & Gabbana floral print dress, said, “Surprisingly, I’ve been responding so well to treatment. The tumor is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking.”
Reeve credited her late husband, Christopher Reeve (who died at age 52 on Oct. 10, 2004), with helping her find the strength to fight her disease. In 1995, Dana stood by his side after a horse-riding accident left the strapping 6’4″ Superman star a quadriplegic. Together, the couple worked tirelessly to raise awareness and money for spinal-cord injuries. After his death, Dana assumed his position as head of his New Jersey-based foundation.
“I was married to a man who never gave up,” Dana said Thursday. “He taught me so much about courage and about going forward. He really was in this with me.” As for the couple’s son Will, 13, she said, “He’s an incredibly upbeat kid. He is the definition of resilience.”
Reeve said she’s also received tremendous support from such close friends as Robin Williams. “I have so many rocks,” Reeve said. “I have a mountain’s worth of rocks.”
Reeve’s diagnosis capped a year that saw her lose both her husband and her mother, who died unexpectedly following surgery for ovarian cancer. “It’s been a very difficult year for our family,” she said. “Just when you think, ‘Okay, I see the light at the end of the tunnel,’ I got the diagnosis. There’s so much unknown with a cancer diagnosis that’s so dire.”
But Reeve said she refuses to feel sorry for herself. “It isn’t fair,” she said, “but I learned a long time ago life just isn’t fair, so you better stop expecting it to be. You just forge ahead. We’re going to get through this like we’ve gotten through everything else.”
“A Magical Evening” – which featured appearances by Williams, Paul Newman, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman and Glenn Close – raised more than $2 million. The Christopher Reeve Foundation is dedicated to finding treatments and cures for spinal-cord injury and to improving the lives of people living with paralysis.
Looking forward, Reeve said she is thinking about resuming her career as an actress and singer. “My prognosis,” she said, “looks better all the time.”