The actresses stresses the need for hope in a new medical documentary

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated March 27, 2006 07:00 AM

An introduction to a medical documentary that Dana Reeve taped last year, three months before her death from lung cancer on March 6, is set to air on PBS this week.

The appearance on The New Medicine marks the final professional engagement of the widow of actor Christopher Reeve.

“She was very hopeful at that point that she would survive. She was buying Christmas presents for her son that day, and really had a tremendous amount of energy,” the documentary’s director, Muffie Meyer, tells the Associated Press.

The film examines how mainstream doctors are embracing the idea that true healing involves treating the whole patient, not merely the symptoms of a disease.

In her introduction to the first segment, Reeve tells viewers: “Your emotional state has a tremendous amount to do with sickness, health and well-being. For years, my husband and I lived on – and because of – hope. Hope continues to give me the mental strength to carry on.”

With her posthumous appearance on the show, Reeve helps underscore the point that holistic medicine is but one tool for fighting illness, yet certainly not a cure-all.

Speaking off-camera with the film’s producers on the day she taped her segments, Reeve said she had consulted with integrative medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil and was doing “creative image work” – a technique in which patients learn to relax by evoking images and sensations.

With the blessing of her medical team at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center, Reeve added, she also was combining botanical supplements with her prescription medicines.