Reba's Love through Loss
- On the season two debut of her podcast, country singer Reba McEntire recalls what it was like falling in love with her now-boyfriend as her mom was diagnosed with – and later passed from – bladder cancer.
- Bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S.; treatments for it include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.
- Losing a loved one to cancer is difficult to process emotionally, and a psychologist or therapist can help.
The debut of season two of her podcast included an extra-special guest on the show: Reba’s boyfriend, the actor Rex Linn. The pair began dating in 2020 but they met decades prior, in 1991 on the set of The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw, a Kenny Rogers TV movie. In 1991, Reba was still married to Narvel Blackstock. The pair divorced in 2015.Read More
In January 2020, Rex and Reba reconnected and went out to dinner together. As the Covid-19 lockdowns began, the pair stayed in touch over text, and when Reba’s mom was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2020, she and her now-beau grew even closer.
“We had just found out that she had bladder cancer,” Reba says on the episode. “And you said, ‘You just feel free to call me anytime you wanna talk,’ and I just quit texting, and we’ve been talking ever since,” McEntire says. After her mom passed from the disease, Rex and Reba continued to grow closer, enjoying virtual coffee dates to connect through the pandemic, and through Reba’s grief.
“It was a very special relationship, us getting to know each other without any physical aspect to it at all,” says Reba.
Understanding Bladder Cancer
Reba’s mom passed from bladder cancer on March 14, 2020. Bladder cancer treatments include:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
“Bladder cancer is one of those cancers that you don’t hear about too often, which has always been surprising to me because it is the fifth most common cancer that we see in the American population,” Dr. Jay Shah tells SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.
There are several different types of bladder cancer. They include:
- Urothelial carcinoma: The most common type of bladder cancer is called urothelial carcinoma. This type occurs when urothelial cells – cells that line the inside of the bladder or other parts of the urinary tract – become cancerous.
- Adenocarcinoma: 1 in 100 bladder cancers are adenocarcinomas, which have a higher likelihood of being invasive at diagnosis. This type of bladder cancer develops from glandular (secretory) cells in the lining of the bladder.
- Sarcoma: This type of bladder cancer is rare and found in the muscle cells of the bladder. Bladder sarcomas tend to form in the area between the openings of the ureters and the urethra, but they can also develop in the entire bladder area.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: About 5 percent of bladder cancer patients have squamous cell carcinoma. The cells in this type have a higher chance of becoming invasive. It is associated with chronic irritation of the bladder which can be caused by things like long-term use of a urinary catheter or an infection.
- Small cell carcinoma: This bladder cancer is very rare and starts in neuroendocrine (nerve-like) cells. It is a highly aggressive cancer that tends to be caught at advanced stages of the disease.
Support through Grief
Losing a parent to cancer can feel devastating and having support through the grieving process – whether in the form of a friend, therapist, or partner – can make the grief journey easier to handle.
If you’re struggling as you grieve the loss of a loved one; reach out for help. No one expects you to – or wants you to – suffer alone. Psychologists and therapists who specialize in grief can help you to work through your emotions in a safe, supportive environment. Your mental health matters, and there are people who are trained to help you manage it.