When I was going through head and neck cancer treatments in 2012, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys died of head and neck cancer. It was a challenging time–people were talking about it all over social media. To make it worse, not only was it at least a similar type of cancer, he was also my age. I know friends debated whether to mention it in group chats, until finally I brought it up and then blogged about it.
So the answer to the question is yes, it’s difficult emotionally when celebrities die of cancer while you’re going through treatments. It’s especially hard if it’s a celebrity you admired, as I admired Alan Rickman.
Reading about his death this morning stunned me because, as often happens, I had no idea he had cancer. Charlie and I just recently watched both Die Hard and Galaxy Quest, and we re-watched the whole Harry Potter series a few months ago. He’s been a fixture in so many of our favorite movie memories for so many years. And, of course, it’s right on the other side of losing David Bowie.
You tell yourself everything you know you should: the celebrity is older than you are, you don’t know the specific type of cancer or the circumstances, everyone and every case is different. Those things help but they don’t take away the worry and the fear. Those linger at the edges of your mind pretty much 24/7 when you’re actively dealing with cancer, and it doesn’t take much to bring them to the forefront.
Beyond the fear, though, there’s a reminder that we’re all human, the great and the small alike. We can’t escape that humanity or the fact that our time here, in this life and in this moment, is so very limited. It’s why I decided to talk about going through cancer treatments and, this morning, to talk about Alan Rickman: because we all need to remember to value every moment we’re given. I’m grateful both David Bowie and Alan Rickman chose to share so many of their moments with the rest of us.
Rest in peace.