‘It’s a Privilege to Be a Father. I Love You My Babies,’ Says Widower John Travolta, 68, After Losing Beloved Wife Kelly Preston, 57, to Breast Cancer

Published Jun 20, 2022

Anne McCarthy

John Reflects on Parenthood after Kelly's Cancer Battle

  • Actor John Travolta honored Father’s Day this week with a touching post about parenthood; the actor lost his wife and co-parent, Kelly Preston, to breast cancer in 2020.
  • Preston passed away from breast cancer in July 2020; not many details are publically known about her treatment path.
  • Many people may choose to keep their health battle, like a cancer diagnosis, private, for a variety of reasons.

Actor John Travolta, 68, lost his wife Kelly Preston to breast cancer in 2020, and despite being a now-single parent, he recognizes how blessed he is to be a dad. The couple are parents to three children the late Jett Travolta, Ella Bleu Travolta, 22, and Benjamin Travolta, 12.

Taking to Instagram to mark the occasion of Father’s Day, the Englewood, New Jersey, native writes, “It’s a privilege to be a father. I love you my babies. Happy Father’s Day to everyone.”

 

 

In the tender photo, John is pictured with his son Benjamin having a quiet, loving moment. We love to see beautiful, happy moments like this even after the difficulties faced by a family’s cancer battle.

John’s Loss & Kelly’s Breast Cancer Battle

John Travolta lost wife Kelly Preston in July 2020. She fought her breast cancer privately for two years before passing from the disease at the too-young age of 57. While we don’t know the specifics of Preston’s treatment, we do know that breast cancer is typically treated with chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery.

After she passed, Travolta thanked doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “My family and I will forever be grateful to her doctors and nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center, all the medical centers that have helped, as well as her many friends and loved ones who have been by her side,” he wrote on social media.

The current guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) say that women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so and that women ages 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening, says the ACS.

When Should I Get a Mammogram?

Keeping a Cancer Battle in the Family

John and his wife kept Preston’s cancer battle relatively private, which is why the world was so stunned when she passed away in July 2020 – most people didn’t know she was sick.

Health is a deeply personal matter, and it’s up to you – and you alone – to determine who has the right and privilege to know about your diagnosis.

It’s important to do what feels right to you after your diagnosis, and not cave into any pressure to share your diagnosis with others before you’re ready or to share it more widely than you’d like. You have autonomy over your health and the sharing of any news related to it.

Dr. Marianna Strongin, a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Strong In Therapy Psychology, tells SurvivorNet that whether someone shares this heavy news is their personal preference.

“I recommend sharing, I’m a therapist,” Strongin says with a laugh, “but to whom and how many people is up to the person (with cancer).”

There are plenty of people who have chosen not to share their cancer battle publicly. While Strongin says that she encourages sharing, she also recognizes there’s also a personality factor at play when it comes to whether a person shares this deeply personal news; some people are more willing to share, and some are just more private, Strongin adds. The difference, she says, is what’s the process in sharing versus not sharing.

Iconic actor Stanley Tucci, 60, shared for the very first time this year that he battled cancer three years ago when a tumor was found on his tongue. Then there’s actress Helen McCroy, wife to actor Damien Lewis, who died in April at age 52 after a private battle with cancer, and Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died at 43 after a private, four-year battle with colon cancer.

Strongin mentions one of her patients who has explored the reasons why she didn’t tell people about her cancer diagnosis. For the patient, Strongin says, “it was coming to terms with the identity of being sick.”

“Being sick is something she never wanted — something she never wanted to acknowledge to herself,” Strongin adds. “It was safer to temporarily do that (identify as sick) for herself,” but the long-term impacts of telling others the same thing were unknown, which can be a scary thought.

Actress Olivia Newton-John Says Kelly Preston’s Passing “Strengthened Her Determination” to Help Others With Cancer

Learn more about SurvivorNet's rigorous medical review process.