Norm MacDonald, Who Battled Acute Leukemia, Is Remembered On The Anniversary Of His Passing
- Epic funny-man Norm MacDonald, 61, of ‘Saturday Night Live’ fame is being remembered on the week of his untimely death last year.
- MacDonald appeared on the hit NBC late night sketch show from 1993 to 1998, with a regular spot on the program’s wildly popular ‘Weekend Update.’
- In 2013, Macdonald was diagnosed with multiple myeloma which developed into acute leukemia and led to his death in 2021.
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
- It’s the most common type of cancer in children, but can also occur in adults. Children are more easily treated.
One of MacDonald’s fans, SiriusXM music host Eric Alper, honoring the comedian’s passing on Twitter, writing, “1 year ago today, Norm MacDonald, the brilliant comedian who was so great as the host of ‘Weekend Update’ on Saturday Night Live, as well as his own sitcom and Dirty Work and Funny People, passed away from cancer.”
1 year ago today, Norm Macdonald, the brilliant comedian who was so great as the host of “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live, as well as his own sitcom and Dirty Work and Funny People, passed away from cancer. He was 61. pic.twitter.com/kHFJrK4MW3Read More— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) September 14, 2022
Alper mentioning MacDonald’s other memorable comedies, including the film “Dirty Work”, with a storyline described as “a loser finds success in the revenge-for-hire business”.
MacDonald’s other notable credit, the 2009 comedy-drama “Funny People.” The film is an example of art imitating life, as it follows a famous comedian who is diagnosed with a terminal disease and tries to fix the relationships in his life while befriending an aspiring comedian.
MacDonald gained fame as a ‘SNL’ alum, appearing on the hit NBC latenight sketch show from 1993 to 1998, with a regular spot on the program’s wildly popular ‘Weekend Update.’
Norm MacDonald’s Personal Cancer Battle
In 2013, Macdonald was diagnosed with multiple myeloma which developed into acute leukemia and led to his death in 2021.
He disclosed his diagnosis to only his family, agent, and producing partner, passing away after a nine year battle.
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow — the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made.
It’s the most common type of cancer in children, but can also occur in adults, though the chance of a cure is greatly reduced.
The news that Macdonald even had cancer was only made public upon the announcement of his death.
Yet, MacDonald spoke about cancer publicly at least twice before his passing.
In his special, “Me Doing Standup”, MacDonald delivered a joke about an uncle who had been diagnosed with bowel cancer, saying: “I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that if you die, then the cancer also dies at the same time. That, to me, is not a loss. That’s a draw.”
He also spoke about the disease in a more somber manner during a 2018 interview with Vulture.
When asked about the idea of good versus bad art, he states: “I’m telling you this: I’ve heard people go on stage and talk about cancer or some shit, and I go, ‘Isn’t this what happens to everybody?’ They seem to think they’re singular in their story when their story is the most common story that could be, which is suffering and pain.”
He then added later in the interview: “You know, I think about my deathbed a lot.”
Keeping a Cancer Battle Private
A person’s health is a private matter; a cancer battle is arguably even more private, which is why some people, especially celebrities, choose to keep their health struggles out of the spotlight.
People like actress Kelly Preston, who was married to actor John Travolta, kept her cancer battle a secret as well; she died of breast cancer at age 57 last summer. Like Macdonald, Preston’s death was a surprise to many as her cancer diagnosis was widely unknown to the public.
On announcing her death, Travolta, now 67, noted at the time that he — like his late wife — would opt for a quiet, private road ahead as he began to grieve his wife. The actor posted to Instagram: “I will be taking some time to be there for my children who have lost their mother, so forgive me in advance if you don’t hear from us for a while. But please know that I will feel your outpouring of love in the weeks and months ahead as we heal.”
Actor Stanley Tucci also recently revealed for the first time that he privately fought tongue cancer three years ago. Actress Helen McCroy, wife to actor Damien Lewis, passed away in April at age 52 after a private battle with cancer.
People have different reasons for whether they share the news of their cancer diagnosis or not. For Marquina Iliev-Piselli, she says that sharing the news can be a burden.
“Deciding when and who to tell became quite a burden,” she tells SurvivorNet. “So you have to relive your story over and over again.”
This alone is reason enough for people to keep their cancer diagnosis under wraps; in the end, the decision is up to the person diagnosed with the disease. And it’s important to remember that there’s no right way to deal with cancer; everyone handles it differently.