Shattered Sarah Jessica Parker Remembers Willie Garson as Cancer Takes Two of Her Best Friends Just Days Apart

Published Sep 24, 2021

Chris Spargo

Sarah Jessica Parker Remembers Willie Garson

  • Sarah Jessica Parker paid tribute to her close friend and Sex and the City co-star Willie Garson on Friday following his death from pancreatic cancer.
  • Garson passed away just days after Parker lost her close friend and business partner George D.Malkemus lll to cancer.
  • Pancreatic cancer often displays no symptoms until it spreads to other organs in the body. Parents, siblings and children of someone with pancreatic cancer are considered at high risk for the disease because they are first-degree relatives of the individual.

Sarah Jessica Parker shared a heartbreaking tribute to he longtime friend and Sex and the City co-star Willie Garson on Friday.

In a lengthy post shared on Instagram she wrote:

It’s been unbearable.
Sometimes silence is a statement.
Of the gravity. The anguish. The magnitude of the loss of a 30 + year friendship. A real friendship that allowed for secrets, adventure, a shared professional family, truth, concerts, road trips, meals, late night phone calls, a mutual devotion to parenthood and all the heartaches and joy that accompany, triumphs, disappointments, fear, rage and years spent on sets (most especially Carrie’s apartment) and laughing late into the night as both Stanford and Carrie and Willie and SJ.
Willie. I will miss everything about you. And replay our last moments together. I will re-read every text from your final days and put to pen our last calls.
Your absence a crater that I will fill with blessing of these memories and all the ones that are still in recesses yet to surface.
My love and deepest sympathies and condolences to you dear Nathen. You were and are the light of Willie’s life and his greatest achievement was being your Papa.
These were his last words to me. “Great bangles all around.” Yes.
Godspeed Willie Garson.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Willie Garson circa 1995

It has been a difficult week for Parker, who lost a best friend and co-star as well as a best friend and business partner with the passing of George D. Malkemus lll just days before Garson.

SurvivorNet has also learned that Garson was unaware that he had cancer when filming on the show began and for the first few weeks, having initially been scheduled to film through the entire five-month run.

He had been looking forward to getting to spend the summer in New York with his son before he headed back to Ohio for college this month.

Tributes have been pouring in all week for the Sex and the City star, who was beloved by his fellow actors.

Leading the way has been his friends from the HBO series and the USA drama White Collar.

The most touching tribute came from his son Nathen.

Willie Garson and son Nathen in 2019 at Elton John’s annual Oscars party

“I love you so much papa. Rest In Peace and I’m so glad you got to share all your adventures with me and were able to accomplish so much. I’m so proud of you,” wrote Nathen, who Willie adopted at the age of 7 and raised as a single dad.

“I will always love you, but I think it’s time for you to go on an adventure of your own. You’ll always be with me. Love you more than you will ever know and I’m glad you can be at peace now. You always were the toughest and funniest and smartest person I’ve known.”

He closed by saying: “I’m glad you shared you’re love with me. I’ll never forget it or lose it.”

Marisa Tomei was among the first to comment, writing: “Love you both dearly.”

Selma Blair commented: “His only everything is knowing you are alright. More than alright. Our children are the ones we give all our love . Our last talk. I wish there was never a last talk with Willie. I will miss him so much.”

Dule Hill also responded, saying: “Thinking of you and sending love to you Nathen. Stay Encouraged.”

Willie’s love for his son was a common theme in many of the tributes, including those of Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis.

“He was endlessly funny on-screen and in real life. He was a source of light, friendship and show business lore. He was a consummate professional— always. My heart goes out to his son, @Nathen_Garson,” said Nixon. “Nathen, I hope you know how much he loved you and how proud he was to be your dad.”

Davis spoke about how the two first meet on the set of The X-Files, before coming together again for Sex and the City.

“He was smarter and funnier than you ever would have imagined. We are bereft without him,” wrote Davis. “And nothing gave him more joy and pride than his son Nathen. Nathen’s strength and wisdom beyond his years are evident in his beautiful tribute to his dad. The outpouring of love is earned dear Willie.”

Willie Garson and Sarah Jessica Parker on set July 23 shooting the ‘Sex and the City’ reboot ‘And Just Like That…’

Sharon Lawrence also spoke about Garson’s love for Nathen in commenting on the college student’s Instagram post, which read: “You were the light of his life. Those of us who knew him before he found you, saw the difference in him as he fell in love with you as a sweet little boy. What a gift it must have been to feel the warmth in his heart from the moment he chose to hold you close. His love is with you always and those of us who love and admire him are grateful for the happiness being your Dad brought him.”

Kim Cattrall took to Twitter, writing: “Such sad news and a terribly sad loss to the SATC family. Our condolences and RIP dear Willie xo.”

The producers of the show also released a statement on Garson, writing: “Willie Garson was in life, as on screen, a devoted friend and a bright light for everyone in his universe. He created one of the most beloved characters from the HBO pantheon and was a member of our family for nearly twenty-five years. We are deeply saddened to learn of his passing and extend our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Matt Bomer, who starred with Garson on White Collar, wrote a deeply touching tribute to his friend and former co-star.

“This past year, you taught me so much about courage and resilience and love. I still haven’t wrapped my head around a world without you in it- where I can’t call you when I need to laugh, or be inspired,” said Boomer.

“The last thing you did when we said goodbye was pull down your mask (I hate covid), smile, and wink at me.”

Garson meanwhile left one final message on his Twitter page, writing in his last ever post: “BE KIND TO EACH OTHER……ALWAYS. LOVE TO ALL. APRROACH KINDNESS.”

Difficulty Diagnosing Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is rarely diagnosed at an early stage. That is because most patients do not experience any symptoms until the cancer has metastasized to other organs in the body.

There is also no diagnostic tool for pancreatic cancer, which is why it is known as the silent disease. And the symptoms could be attributed to a host of other illnesses, as they include:

  • Abdominal pain that is felt in the lower back
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Yellowing of the skin
  • Yellowing of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Lighter-colored stools
  • Darker-colored urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Recent diabetes diagnosis
  • Inability to control diabetes
  • Blood clots
  • Fatigue

Survivor Joel Naftelberg on His Pancreatic Cancer Battle

Pancreatic Cancer Risk

With a five-year relative survival rate of only 9% in the United States, pancreatic cancer remains one of the deadliest forms of the disease.

What’s more, between 2007 and 2016 the death rate for pancreatic cancer actually increased slightly, by 0.3%.

On top of all this, incidence rates for the disease rose by about 1% per year from 2006 to 2015.

“Pancreatic cancer is still uncommon enough that if you were to screen everybody you would end up with a lot of false positives,” explains Dr. Anirban Maitra, co-leader of the Pancreatic Cancer Moon Shoot at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Even with a fantastic biomarker test that you had, even if it was 99% sensitive and 99% specific, you would still have a lot of false positives.”

That is not meant to deter people from screenings, especially those whose relatives have been diagnosed with the disease.

“If somebody has two first-degree relatives with pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Maitra says, “their risk is already double digits higher than the average population. If they have three family members it’s almost 34 percent higher than the average risk population.”

The presence of cysts on the pancreas also carries an increased risk of cancer, though in most cases those growths are completely benign.

Challenges to Screening for Pancreatic Cancer

Learn more about SurvivorNet's rigorous medical review process.

Chris Spargo is a senior reporter at SurvivorNet. Read More