Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I read The Huffington Post. I really like The Huffington Post. And considering how much content the popular news site posts every day, the stories are usually accurate.

But their editors published a factually challenged and in my opinion somewhat misleading piece today on famous people who've been diagnosed with lymphoma.

The article, which has no byline, leads off by mentioning that Arlen Specter, the former U.S. Senator who I've had the pleasure of interviewing several times over the years, has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which makes this his third battle with cancer (he's already beaten Hodgkin's lymphoma twice).

But the story says Specter is 72 years old. Uh, no, he isn't. Actually, Specter is 82; he was born February 12, 1930.

Beneath the piece there is a short slide show that includes "Famous Faces Touched by Lymphoma" (either Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's). The list includes just seven celebs: Dexter star Michael C. Hall, Ramones lead vocalist Joey Ramone, Survivor winner Ethan Zohn, Spartacus: Blood And Sand actor Andy Whitfield, actor Mr. T, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen, and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich).

There's certainly nothing wrong with listing famous people who have battled lymphoma. I include several in my book Hope Begins in the Dark.

But is this list of "famous faces" really the best that Huffington Post editors could come up with? They've left out so many famous people who've suffered from the disease. And by those omissions, I would argue, they've squandered an opportunity to show their many readers just how common lymphoma is.

Among those left off Huffington Post's list of famous people who've had either Hodgkin's or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are the following:

Former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, New York Yankee great Roger Maris, Boston Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, country western icon Gene Autry, comic actor and filmmaker Gene Wilder, Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In star Arte Johnson, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In co-host Dan Rowan, Black Sabbath rock guitarist Tony Iommi, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson, and Chicago blues legend Junior Wells.

Wait, there are more, including actor and former Senator Fred Thompson, King Hussein of Jordan, actor and former Mr. Universe Steve Reeves, Pulitzer Prize-winning Shoe cartoonist Jeff MacNelly, civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory, baseball slugger Andres Galarraga, NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Mark Fields, WNBA rising star Jessica Breland, former presidential candidate Paul Tsongas, PGA golf champion Paul Azinger, former CIA director William Casey, and flying legend Charles Lindbergh.

Now are you getting an idea of just how incomplete their list is? If Huffington Post editors had included even a few more of these famous names, I think it would have made for a better story.

Lymphoma is the seventh most common cancer in the United States, which I did not know when I was diagnosed. I suspect many Americans still don't know this. 

Articles like the one in Huffington Post today, while certainly well meaning, don't fully illustrate how devastating, and devastatingly common, this disease really is.


  1. Thank you for your letter to Huffington Post regarding the many famous people having Hodgkin's or Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Perhaps the Post can publish an article on the increasing number of people being inflicted with this blood cancer which is rarely publicized.


  2. Thanks Loretta, well said. It is indeed on the rise, unlike some cancers. This needs to be publicized more. I'm doing my best to change that. Keep reading the blog, and tell a friend if you would.

  3. Loretta is right the increasing numbers of new cases of Lymphoma's, and particularly amongst the 18 - 45 age group is alarming, and like Loretta said this is rarely publicized!

    The Huffington Post got it real wrong this time. The had the chance to run with the increasing incidents of Lymphoma, the real story. We've gotten good with the treatments working if caught early enough. People with Lymphoma's ARE living longer.

    But let's just find the causes and get to eradicating Lymphoma soon!


    1. So sad now to re-read these notes from Tim. May you rest in peace, my friend!!

  4. Loretta is correct the growing quantities of brand-new installments of Lymphoma's, and also amongst the 20 - Forty five age bracket will be mind boggling, and also similar to Loretta mentioned this can be almost never promoted!
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  5. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's in July 2003. I have had both an auto and an allo transplant. After the second the cancer came back at 4 years 10 months. I've been told I was in remission a total of6 times, but at this point I will never be "cured". I was googling famous people w/ Hodgkins to see if any of them had set up charities to support others with the disease. It seems the breast cancer people have the most supporters. My nurse and I call them the rock stars of cancer. Glad your health is still strong.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, very nice to hear from you, and congrats on your amazing battle. Check out my book on lymphoma survivors if you get a chance:
      Be well!