Lymphoma Survivor Gene Wilder Continues Stem Cell Advocacy

Think Gene Wilder and cancer in the same sentence, we’re most likely to think of Gilda Radner, Wilder’s wife and fellow comedienne, who died from ovarian cancer. Her death prompted his active involvement in promoting cancer awareness and treatment, helping found the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Center in Los Angeles and co-founding Gilda's Club, a network of meeting places where men, women and children living with cancer and their families and friends join with others to build emotional and social support as a supplement to medical care.

We don’t often remember that a decade after Gilda’s death in 1989, Wilder faced his own battle with cancer. In 1999, Wilder discovered he had non-Hodgkin lymphoma. After undergoing chemotherapy and a non-embryonic stem cell transplant, he has been in complete remission since 2005. Generally reticent to enter political involvement, he became a vocal Obama supporter last year. He expressed dismay over Christopher Reeve’s death just six weeks before he was scheduled for an embryonic stem cell transplant in another country.

Now in his 70s, Wilder lives in Connecticut with his fourth wife, speech pathologist Karen Boyer, in an 18th-Century house Radner left to him in her will. You can read more about his cancer struggle in his memoir, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art.

To see an interview with Wilder on his lymphoma, go to:

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