Cancer's Tragic Toll on Christiane Amanpour and Best Friend John F. Kennedy Jr.-Christiane Amanpour and John F. Kennedy Jr became nest friends after rooming together in college
-Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis became a mentor to Amanpour
-Amanpour, 63, stood by JFK Jr’s side after his mother passed away just five months after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
-The CNN anchor also watched JFK Jr’s cousin Anthony Radziwill pass away following a long battle with testicular cancer
-Amanpour announced she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer during her show on Monday
-She credited early detection with her promising prognosis
Those losses also taught her about the importance of early detection when trying to fight off this relentless disease. Early detection is why Amanpour shed no tears discussing her ovarian cancer diagnosis on Monday. She was also able to tell viewers that her surgery was successful and that she is currently receiving chemotherapy, all this following a relatively short four-week break.Read More
Amanpour split her childhood behind Tehran and London before decamping to the States for college. That is when the University of Rhode Island student first met JFK Jr., who was enrolled at nearby Brown University. Amanpour had been looking for a roommate while the former first son seemed eager to belie his family’s core values by moving into an off-campus residence that could provide him with some privacy and anonymity away from the prying eyes of his classmates and the press.
The two were inseparable for the next 20 years, and Amanpour became close to the entire Kennedy family and JFK Jr’s wife, Carolyn. She grew particularly close though with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and said that the former first lady was like a mentor to her over the years. “She took an incredible interest in my career, always encouraged me, mentioned I should get married,” said Amanpour in 2011 while appearing on a panel about the Kennedy clan at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. “When I got an award she would send me flowers. It’s very rare to have that kind of mentoring.”
That mentorship was a brief one however due to Jackie’s death in 1994 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Amanpour watched as Jackie died just six months after doctors first discovered a swollen lymph node in her groin after she was thrown from her horse. Jackie was told that the lymph node was the result of an infection, but the following month began experiencing severe stomach aches while more swollen lymph nodes started to appear in her throat.
In January she underwent chemotherapy and returned to her post at Doubleday, where she had worked as an editor since divorcing second husband Aristotle Onassis. In March, the cancer had spread to her spine. In May, it had reached her liver and was determined to be terminal.
She passed away on May 19, 1994, with her two children by her side.
At the time of Jackie’s death, JFK Jr’s cousin Anthony Radziwill was five years into his own battle with testicular cancer. He would outlive his cousin, who died in July 1999 when the plane he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
Anthony would die one month later, much to the shock of the entire family. He had been fine prior to the crash, many family members have noted in previous interviews, but following the death of his cousin, Anthony’s condition began to deteriorate at a rapid rate.
Amanpour was close to Anthony and his wife Carole Radziwill as well, and once again witnessed how fast cancer could ravage the human body.
This could explain why Amanpour used her announcement on Monday as a chance to once again raise awareness, stress the importance of early detection, and encourage more people to get tested.
“I’m telling you this in the interest of transparency, but in truth really mostly as a shoutout to early diagnoses,” she said on Monday. “To urge women to educate themselves on this disease, to get all the regular screenings and scans that you can. To always listen to your bodies. And of course, to ensure that your legitimate medical concerns are not dismissed or diminished.”
Some personal news from me: pic.twitter.com/D5noRnfXfA
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) June 14, 2021
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. In fact, it has been called “the sleeping lion,” Dr. Kimberly Resnick, a gynecologic oncologist at MetroHealth in Cleveland, Ohio, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “It’s hard, because 75% of women who walk into our office with ovarian cancer, unfortunately, are going to walk in with advanced-stage disease.”
RELATED: Annual Ovarian Cancer Screenings Do Not Save Lives, Study Suggests; Women Should Listen for Signs of the ‘Cancer that Whispers’
The diagnosis of ovarian cancer is often delayed because its symptoms can be subtle and nonspecific. In fact, many of the symptoms mimic those that women often experience in everyday life, and that can be attributed to any number of other conditions or health problems. That’s why it’s so important for women to be on the lookout for common symptoms like these:
- Abdominal pain
- Quickly feeling full when eating
- Other symptoms of advanced disease may include weight gain in just the abdomen and changes in bowel habits.
No Screening Tests
Unlike some other types of cancer, such as breast cancer and colon cancer, there aren’t any routine screening tests for ovarian cancer. At the present time, there are no simple and reliable methods available that can screen for ovarian cancer in women who do not have any signs or symptoms. “We don’t have an inexpensive, easily reproducible test that we can use to prevent this disease,” says Dr. Resnick.
In fact, if a woman doesn’t have any symptoms and is not at high risk for hereditary ovarian cancer syndrome, current recommendations say that she should not get screened. This is an across-the-board consensus from major medical groups and public health organizations such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Cancer Society.
Screening of women who are an average risk for the disease may do more harm than good, as it can lead to more testing or even unnecessary surgery. However, it is recommended that women who are a high risk for ovarian cancer due to an inherited genetic syndrome consider getting screened.
There are tests that doctors use when they suspect a patient might have ovarian cancer, and for those who have a genetic predisposition to this cancer. These include the transvaginal ultrasound, which is an ultrasound of the female genital organs that is done internally, and a blood test called CA-125, which tests for a marker that is elevated in women with ovarian cancer. However, these are not true screening tests for ovarian cancer.
“These are tests we may use in a patient in whom we have a high suspicion of cancer, or in patients who have a genetic predisposition to the disease,” says Dr. Resnick. “But these are not screening tests to use in everyday women who walk into the office with abdominal cramps.”
Be An Advocate
The most valuable thing to tell a patient, says Dr. Resnick, is to be an advocate for yourself and trust your body. “You know your body better than anyone does, and better than any physician will probably ever know,” she says. “So trust your body and listen to your symptoms.”
If your symptoms have persisted for more than a week, see your doctor. And if your doctor isn’t taking your symptoms seriously or can’t find a cause for them, you have the right to seek out a second opinion. Keep pushing for a diagnosis until you get one that adequately addresses your symptoms.