A Lion, An Angel, and a Pioneer

CURE, Fall 2009, Volume 8, Issue 3

Remembering Ted Kennedy, Farrah Fawcett, and Don Hewitt.

St. John’s Children’s Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, has announced that actor Brad Pitt and his siblings donated $1 million to help open a pediatric cancer center in honor of their mother, Jane Pitt, an advocate of children’s issues. The Pitts’ endowment allows St. John’s to offer pediatric cancer and hematology services at the new Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center.

At the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting earlier this summer, Olivia Newton-John announced plans for Kaleidoscope, a television special to raise awareness of cancer in women. Kaleidoscope includes a contest (www.edgehealth.com) to find a song written by a cancer survivor that Newton-John, herself a breast cancer survivor, will perform during the program. Kaleidoscope will air Thanksgiving Day on Fox.

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson’s wife, Amy, was diagnosed with breast cancer in May, and his mother, Mary, was diagnosed six weeks later. In a July 16 post on his website, Mickelson reported that Amy’s cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes, and that both women were recovering well and awaiting test results. “The waiting and wondering sometimes can be the most difficult part,” he wrote.

Senator Edward Kennedy, known as the “Lion of the Senate,” died August 25 at age 77 after battling a brain tumor for more than a year. He held the Senate seat for almost five decades, and authored more than 2,500 bills, several hundred of which became law. He was a leader in issues concerning civil rights, education, and health care—a particular passion for the Massachusetts senator. In a Newsweek column published a month before his death, Kennedy called health care reform “the cause of my life.” President Barack Obama said in a statement: “Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time.” Kennedy will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery near his older brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

The 1970s “it” girl and Charlie’s Angel starlet Farrah Fawcett died of anal cancer on June 25 at age 62. First diagnosed in 2006 and declared cancer-free in 2007, Fawcett’s cancer returned a few months later and spread to her liver. Fawcett shared an intimate look at her battle with cancer in the TV documentary Farrah’s Story, which aired on NBC this past May. Fawcett, who served as an executive producer on the film, received a posthumous Emmy nomination for outstanding nonfiction special.

Don Hewitt, the creator of 60 Minutes, died August 19 at age 86 of pancreatic cancer. Known as a pioneer in broadcast news, Hewitt’s career included serving as executive producer of CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Following the debut of 60 Minutes in 1968, Hewitt produced the show for more than 35 years.