Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dana Reeve Fighting Lung Cancer

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I have admired Dana Reeve for years. I always thought she was such a remarkable woman for staying totally dedicated to her husband, the late Christopher Reeve, despite his paralysis, and other health problems. She shows that beauty is, as beauty does, and has dedicated her life to her children, and toward helping others.

Sadly, as has been reported today, she has now been given an additional cross to bear, as she is fighting lung cancer. She is one of the minority of those fighting lung cancer who never smoked. I extend my prayers to her, and her family. Dana also lost a close family member this Spring to cancer.

I'm including a speech which she gave last Fall in which she endorsed John Kerry. John Kerry supported stem cell research. Kerry endorsed a less supersticious-religious approach, favoring instead a more rational-scientific means of dealing with the nation's problems - including the issue of funding for stem cell research.

Speech by Christopher Reeve's wife, Dana Reeve

24 Oct 2004

“Hello, I am Dana Reeve.

Thank you for your warm welcome. I know we all wish Christopher could be with us today, he would be honored as I am to introduce our long-time friend and ally, Senator John Kerry.

Chris and Senator Kerry's relationship goes back to a time when they worked together to advance this country's commitment to preserving the environment. Today, as an advocate and also as a wife, mother and caregiver I stand next to John Kerry to do my part to help advance this country's commitment to medical research.

One of the last calls Chris made was to John Kerry - I think he was going to give you some additional talking points on the promise of stem cell research - forever the director.

Eleven days ago, a light went out in my life. When Chris died, the world lost a truly inspirational leader. I lost my best friend. I have been grieving privately the past week and a half, surrounded by close friends and family, trying to help the children start to piece together life without their dad.

My inclination would be to remain private for a good long while. But I came here today in support of John Kerry because this is so important. This is what Chris wanted.

Although our family feels Chris's loss so keenly right now, today is the right moment to transform our grief into hope. Chris is the beacon guiding me.

Almost a decade ago, Christopher also made a bold decision, to choose life and to fight for every single day he had with us. He always fought for his beliefs, and that's what gives me so much personal strength today.

I don't think it is a secret that my husband was a strong advocate for medical research. He had every plan to walk again, and he never once slowed down in his pursuit to forward the most promising and cutting edge science.

He was tireless in his efforts to further understand each new scientific breakthrough. Chris made it a point to speak with researchers almost every day. He challenged scientists to make the necessary leaps to translate basic science to therapies, to move from the lab to the patient's side.

Chris was an extremely vocal proponent of embryonic stem cell research. Chris joined the National Academies of Science, the National Institutes of Health, over 80 Nobel Laureates, every scientific mind he could ask, and most importantly the majority of Americans in believing the promise of embryonic stem cell research to unlock life saving treatments and cures.

There are currently researchers working across the country transplanting embryonic stem cells into rats. The rats, once paralyzed, are now walking. Chris was fond of saying, “Oh to be a rat.” He knew human studies were a long way from these animal studies, but they gave him and thousands more real hope.

I am here today because John Kerry, like Christopher Reeve, believes in keeping our hope alive.

Chris struggled for nine and a half years. But it was essential to him that every day bring some kind of forward progress, either personally or globally. Despite the enormous challenges he faced each morning, he awoke with focused determination and a remarkable zest for life. Chris was able to keep going because he had the support of his loved ones and dedicated nursing staff, the belief of his fans and members of the disabled community, and because he had hope - hope that one day science would restore some of his function. Chris actively participated in clinical trials. He was on a strict exercise regimen and was recently in a clinical trial right here in Ohio to breathe on his own. Chris could breathe off his ventilator for hours at a time thanks to science and scientists taking bold steps.

Chris understood that all journeys begin with a single step and to take that first step one needs hope. His vision of walking again, his belief that he would reach this goal for himself and others in his lifetime, was central to the way he conducted his life.

Chris's unyielding support of stem cell research transcended spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Chris believed learning more about disease and disease development, how the body works, and how it can repair itself, would help all individuals suffering from a disease or disorder. He saw benefits in finding treatments and cures for people with cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, cardiovascular disorders, autoimmune diseases, and a host of other medical conditions which rob people of the quality of life that we all deserve.

While Chris led the crusade for research, I poured my energy into improving the quality of life for people living with diseases, inspired by individuals who could still benefit from research on the horizon. Right here in Ohio, the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation has funded a number of programs that keep people healthy and active despite the challenges of living with a disability: Dancing Wheels, Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, Assistive Dogs of America, the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center - all of which keep people hopeful about their lives and their future.

Chris imagined living in a world where politics would never get in the way of hope. So I am here today to honor my husband as I proudly introduce our friend and to declare my vote for the next President of the United States, John Kerry.”


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