Blythe Danner Reveals She’s Been Privately Battling Cancer

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

A little over 20 years after her husband Bruce Paltrow passed away from oral cancer, Blythe Danner announced she has been diagnosed with the same type of cancer. 

While speaking to PEOPLE about her recent health struggles, Blythe Danner stated, “Everyone is touched by cancer in some way, but it’s unusual for a couple to have the same cancer. I remember I looked up at heaven and said to Bruce, ‘Are you lonely up there?’ It’s a sneaky disease.”

Blythe Danner shared that she was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma. This is considered a relatively rare form of oral cancer. It often develops in the salivary glands. The Will & Grace star recalled working in London in 2018 and starting to feel off. “I started feeling very woozy and I was forgetting everything. And then I felt a lump in my neck, right next to where Bruce had found his [in 1999].”

Blythe Danner admitted after finding out she had cancer, she withheld the information from the public, as well as her children, Gwyneth and Jake Paltrow. “I kept it from my kids for a long time. I wanted to forge ahead as a mother, and I didn’t want them to worry.”

Gwyneth Paltrow recalled when her mother finally told her about the diagnosis. “I was obviously very shocked. It was scary. And it felt really eerie because it was so similar [to my dad’s].”

Despite the diagnosis, Blythe Danner carried on with the treatment. Danner had two earlier surgeries. She eventually had a third surgery with Dr. Mark DeLacure in 2020, which succeeded in removing the cancerous tissue. “She went through it with so much grace,” Gwyneth shared. “I was amazed at how strong she was able to be.

Blythe Danner Is Now Remission Following a Battle With Oral Cancer

After the third surgery, Blythe Danner went into remission. “I’m fine and dandy now,” she reassured. “And I’m lucky to be alive. I wasn’t quaking in my boots. I don’t have any fear of death at all.”

Blythe Danner then reflected on losing her husband Bruce. The couple had been married for 33 years before his death in 2002. “You never get over that kind of loss,” Danner explained. “Bruce was the heart of our family. And life is so much paler without him around. But grief is the price we pay for love.”

Blythe Danner is now an advocate with the Oral Cancer Foundation. PEOPLE reports that there are an estimated 54,000 Americans that are diagnosed with this type of cancer every year. “Screening for the early signs by a dental professional is quick, inexpensive, and painless,” the Foundation’s Executive Director, Brian Hill, stated. 

Blythe Danner went on to add that she believes her family had grown stronger with her and Bruce’s cancer battles. “I think we’ve all become somehow stronger. It’s a bit of a crapshoot — this disease and this life. But I’ve had a career, great kids and a loving husband. I’m very grateful.”