Doctor Predict's Jane Fonda's Good Health Will Help Her Cancer Fight
- Jane Fonda, 84, says she’s been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is already undergoing chemotherapy.
- Geriatrics and internal medicine physician Dr .Imran Ali of Connecticut tells SurvivorNet that Fonda’s good health despite her age will help her cancer fight.
- The actress and activist also beat breast cancer in 2010 and skin cancer on her lip in 2018.
- Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system, one of about 100 different types of blood cancers that affect nearly 200,000 Americans every year.
- September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month.
The 84 year old ‘Barbarella’ star announced recently on Instagram that she’s been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.Read More
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“Cancer is a teacher and I’m paying attention to the lessons it holds for me. One thing it’s shown me already is the importance of community. Of growing and deepening one’s community so that we are not alone,” she wrote. “And the cancer, along with my age –almost 85– definitely teaches the importance of adapting to new realities.”
Fonda says her chemotherapy treatments are scheduled for six months, during which she says she will continue her climate activism.
“I’m also lucky because I have health insurance and access to the best doctors and treatments. I realize, and it’s painful, that I am privileged in this,” Fonda went on to write, adding how almost every family in America has had to deal with cancer at one time or another and too many don’t have access to quality health care.
Dr. Imran Ali, a geriatrics and internal medicine doctor in Connecticut, tells SurvivorNet that Fonda has more than luck on her side.
“I think she’s poised to do well because of her health. She can’t have that many co-morbidities based on her activity level,” said Dr. Ali, who is not treating Fonda, but is following her case closely.
A self-described health-nut, Fonda is well known for being an exercise fanatic who has kept herself slim and in shape for decades. She’s famous for her workout videos.
“She is physiologically not the 85 year old, the way you and I would think of an 85 year old,” Dr. Ali said.
“Her age is a physiological age and a chronological age, because the studies prove that geriatrics patients who have a better physiological baseline functional status do really well and can tolerate pretty toxic and potentially toxic chemotherapy.”
What is Lymphoma?
Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system, which begins in a specific kind of white blood cell called a lymphocyte, located in the body’s lymphatic system.
It is one of about 100 different types of blood cancers that affect nearly 200,000 Americans every year.
Fonda has not revealed the type of lymphoma with which she’s been diagnosed, but Dr. Imran says her age is a factor.
“You don’t typically see non-Hodgkins lymphoma in younger adults,” he said. “It’s a cancer of the immune system. The immune system is aging, and with age it doesn’t work as efficiently.”
In cases of lymphoma, the lymphocytes multiply and build up in the lymph nodes and other tissues, making it more difficult for your immune system to launch an effective attack against invading germs.
As a result, the body becomes more prone to infections and other illnesses.
The disease is broken up into two main categories: Hodgkin Lymphoma and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Doctors make a determination by examining the white blood cells within the body.
If they are unable to detect the Reed-Sternberg cell (a giant cell derived from B lymphocytes), then it is classified as non-Hodgkin. If the cells are present, then it is classified as Hodgkin.
Jane Fonda’s Other Cancers
The Academy Award winner revealed in 2010 that she experienced a breast cancer scare after doctors discovered a small, non-invasive tumor.
Fonda underwent a procedure at the time, and her representative declared her “cancer-free.”
In 2016, Fonda had a mastectomy before the Golden Globe Awards.
However, Fonda’s battle with cancer didn’t stop there.
In 2018, while speaking to the “TODAY” show, Fonda addressed bandages on her face by explaining she had a cancer taken away from her lip.
“Well, the world is falling apart, what’s a lip?” Fonda asked. “Yeah, they did (biopsy it.) I’m going to be fine, thanks.”
Indeed Fonda’s skin cancer treatment was minor compared to her mastectomy procedure.
A mastectomy removes either one or both breasts.
It’s usually done to treat breast cancer, but other women have the surgery to prevent a breast cancer diagnosis if there’s history of the disease in their family.
“Depending on the size and other features, such as family history, a patient may opt for more aggressive surgery,” Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, tells SurvivorNet.
In addition to risk factors, there are a few surgery options patients should keep in mind while approaching physicians for breast cancer treatment.
Dr. Ann Partridge explains when women should consider a mastectomy during breast cancer treatment
“When I talk to a woman who comes to me and she has breast cancer, I evaluate what the standard options for treatment for her are, which typically include cutting out the cancer — which is either a lumpectomy if you can get it all with just a little scooping around of the area that’s abnormal or a mastectomy for some women meaning taking the full breast because sometimes these lesions can be very extensive in the breast,” Dr. Partridge, a medical oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, explains to SurvivorNet.
Cancer Survivors Cope By Sharing Their Stories
Fonda is far from the only celebrity to go through a mastectomy.
Other familiar faces like “Elle” magazine Editor-In-Chief Nina Garcia, actresses Angelina Jolie and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and others have all opened up about their experiences with the procedure.
Other cancer survivors have turned to writing in an effort to cope with a diagnosis and share their experience battling the disease.
Actor and throat cancer survivor Val Kilmer released his memoir “I’m Your Huckleberry” which made it to New York Times Best Sellers list.
Also, the late ‘Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, who battled stage four pancreatic cancer, released a memoir, “The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life”, which was published in July.
In addition, author C.C. Webster was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma at 25, and spoke to SurvivorNet about how putting pen to paper was therapeutic in coping with her cancer diagnosis.
“I realized that I needed to write down my story,” Webster told SurvivorNet. “I wanted to write and depict a story that was raw, and honest, and meaningful, and could potentially make somebody feel less alone.”
Author CC Webster says she turned to writing after cancer diagnosis