“Good Morning America” interrupted its regular programming this morning with a sad announcement: actress, activist and mother Dana Reeve has died from a powerful strain of lung cancer at age 44. Though she was an accomplished performer in her own right, Reeve is perhaps best known as the wife of late actor Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed during a 1995 horseback riding accident. After her husband’s accident Reeve founded the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation and dedicated herself to the crusade for new treatments and cures for spinal cord injury and paralysis. She was a devoted mother to their son Will, 13, and a loyal and almost impossibly optimistic companion to Reeve until his own death in 2004.
The years since her husband’s death have been hard for Reeve. Last year her mother died of complications from ovarian cancer, and in August, Reeve herself announced that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer, despite the fact that she was never a smoker. Ever positive, at the time she said she “felt very close” to her late husband and thought of him as a “the ultimate example of defying the odds with strength, courage and hope.”
Kathy Lewis, president and CEO of the Christopher Reeve Foundation, released a statement to the press this morning in response to the news. No doubt, she speaks for many when she says that Dana Reeve’s “grace and courage under the most difficult of circumstances [were] a source of comfort and inspiration to all of us.”