Dax Remembers His Dad's Chemo Through Lung Cancer
- Armchair Expert podcast host and actor Dax Shepard, 47, reminisced about traveling to see his dad during chemo during this week’s episode with actor Jeremy Renner.
- Shepard lost his dad to small-cell carcinoma, a type of lung cancer; and he lost his stepfather to prostate cancer.
- Caring for a parent or step-parent who is battling cancer can be challenging; make a plan for treatment for your loved one and also take care of your mental and emotional health throughout the process.
At the top of this week’s episode, Shepard tells Renner, “When my father was dying [of cancer] I was there for about four months; flying back to Detroit every week when he was doing chemo…”Read More
Renner and Shepard covered a wide range of topics this week, including Renner’s stint working as a makeup artist in department stores when he was just starting his career in Hollywood, and his role in the Marvel films. On their Instagram, Armchair Expert writes of Renner, “We love @jeremyrenner!!!! What a surprise and jack of all trades: including make-up artist and fire truck collector! Please enjoy @jeremyrenner on @spotifypodcasts for free!!”
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Dax’s Cancer Losses: Lung Cancer & Prostate Cancer
Shepard lost his dad, Dave Shepard, to small-cell carcinoma, a type of lung cancer predominantly found in smokers and former smokers. Dave died in 2012 at age 62. Former and current heavy smokers can – and should – screen for lung cancer. Lung cancer treatment options include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.
Writing about Dave Shepard’s death in a now-removed 2013 Tumblr post, the actor wrote of being there through Dave’s cancer, “It was the only project we ever teamed up on. We never built a tree house or a soap box derby car together, but you would have never known it by watching us tear through chemo decisions and radiation plans.”
Dax Shepard’s stepfather passed from prostate cancer, and as a result, Shepard has acted as a spokesperson for the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). “Prostate cancer has tragically affected my life,” he said, on behalf of the organization. “My stepfather passed away from late-stage disease and since we became aware of his diagnosis, my wife and I have been doing whatever we can to support the great work the PCF is doing, and bringing awareness is the first step,” said Shepard.
Prostate cancer is screened for via prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, which look for traces of PSA in the bloodstream, an indicator of prostate cancer. When you should screen for prostate cancer depends upon your risk level, which is dictated by family cancer history. The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) current guidelines advise that men screen for prostate cancer at the following ages, depending on risk factor:
- Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
- Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father or brother) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
- Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).
Being a Cancer Caretaker
Shepard functioned as a caregiver during his dad’s cancer journey, and also served as a financial provider by paying for his chemo treatment bills. Taking on one or even both of these roles is commendable and inspiring. If you’re not in a position to do both, that’s okay. Do what you can to support your loved one during their cancer battle.
Be sure to take care of your own mental and emotional health while your loved one is battling cancer. A cancer diagnosis and its subsequent treatment affect the whole family; it’s okay to feel angry, depressed, or confused during this time. Do what you need to do to care for your mental health; that may mean speaking with a counselor or therapist to fully and safely process your emotions around the cancer diagnosis.