Celine Remembers René
- Celine Dion’s husband René died five years ago, at 73, after a battle with throat cancer.
- He was first diagnosed with the disease in 1998, and a second time in 2014; he treated his cancer with surgery.
- Coping with a loved one’s cancer diagnosis can be helped by having a strong support network, and ensuring you take care of yourself first, so you can be a system of support for your partner.
View this post on Instagram
René’s Throat Cancer Battle
René was diagnosed with throat cancer for the first time in 1998, and then it went into remission. But his cancer returned in 2014; he was diagnosed with the disease after doctors found a lump on his neck. After his 2014 diagnosis, René underwent surgery to treat it. The procedure involved removing parts of his tongue to treat his throat cancer.
Dr. Jessica Geiger, a Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, explained in an eariler interview about the link between throat cancer and HPV. “Right now there are no screening guidelines to screen for throat cancer, unlike cervical cancer with pap smears. And there are no standard tests to determine if you harbor the virus. However, there is no concern that you’re going to spread this cancer to your partner or to anyone else, because at this point your partner has already been exposed to the virus and likely cleared it.”
Thankfully, this type of cancer is quite responsive to treatment, said Dr. Geiger. “HPV-related throat cancer, generally, is very responsive to treatment with radiation and chemotherapy. And the cure rates for patients who have HPV-related disease are a lot higher than those who have tobacco-related throat cancer.”
Coping with a Spouse’s Cancer Diagnosis
When a spouse is diagnosed with cancer, it can feel like a devastating blow. It’s important that you surround yourself with the needed support so that you can first take care of yourself and then show up fully for your partner. Writer and actress Jill Kargman, who is a cancer survivor, said in a previous interview how a cancer diagnosis can also shine a light on the strength – or weakness – of a relationship.
“I think cancer is a great way to find out if you’re with the love of your life or a shithead,” said Kargman. “I think it presses the fast forward button on getting to the bottom of that answer, because a lot of people in middle age are kind of at a crossroads, waiting for their kids to fly the coop. And I think if you’re with someone who is not supportive and kind of emotionally checked out or doesn’t tell you you’re still beautiful with that, this might not be your person.”