Famous People That We've Lost to Colorectal Cancer

If you're still under the impression that colorectal cancer is the cancer of the very old, or older caucasian men, then it's time to consider this list of celebrities who have died of colorectal cancer within the last few decades. Statistically, colon and rectal cancer favors the fifty and above population, however it can strike at any age, any gender, and any ethnicity.

This is, by no means, an all-inclusive list.

Nor is it a list of celebrities who died primarily of colon cancer. Likewise, some of these famous people, such as Walter Matthau, died of cardiac disease, but were also known to have colon cancer. Other people, including Charles Shulz, already had advanced metastatic disease by the time his cancer was diagnosed. 

This list only encompasses a handful of our beloved deceased -- it specifically does not mention stars such as Sharon Osbourne, Terry Jones, or athlete Darryl Strawberry, who are alive and battling colorectal cancer, or historical figures such as the French composer, Claude Debussy, who passed away in 1918 from the disease. It will also not include the stars of your life; friends, family, and loved ones who have passed on because of this disease. 

1970

Vince Lombardi- Despite his myriad other recognizable career venues, he was popularized as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967.

1983

Carolyn Jones- American actress most commonly recognized in her role as Morticia Addams in the popular Addams Family television series.

1993

Audrey Hepburn- Iconic American actress known for her sense of style, beauty, humanitarianism, and myriad movie starring roles. 

1995

Elizabeth Montgomery- American actress known for her iconic role as Samantha Stephens in the television series Bewitched.

 

2000

Charles Shulz- Cartoonist popularized by his characters in Peanuts, to include Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

Walter Matthau- Iconic American actor known for his role in The Odd Couple.

2001

Jack Lemmon- Iconic American actor, also battled metastatic bladder cancer.

2002

Milton Berle- American comedian and actor, known as the "Pioneer of television" on his show, The Milton Berle Show. 

Rod Roddy- Popular game show host to include, The Price is Right and Wham!

2004

Ronald Reagan- He was diagnosed with colon cancer, but the 40th president of the United States succumbed to Alzheimer's disease.

2005 

Pope John Paul II- Leader of the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005, canonized in 2014.

2007 

Joel Siegel- American movie critic and reporter.

2008

Tony Snow- Former White House Press Secretary, television anchor, and radio host.

2009

Farrah Fawcett- Actress best known for her role in the television series, Charlie's Angels. Succumbed to anal cancer.

The death of our beloved iconic figures, although tragic, continues to bring attention to the morbidity of colon cancer.

Colon cancer awareness continues to enlighten the public and promote early screening exams, specifically the colonoscopy, which can help detect early cases of colon cancer when it is most treatable.

Prior to her death in 2009, Farrah Fawcett made a recording of her fight against anal cancer to promote knowledge and awareness. The death of Jay Monahan, Katie Couric's former spouse, drew attention and support to the fight against colorectal cancer. The point in memorializing the included celebrities is not to promote fear; rather, to encourage early screening and colon cancer awareness. Especially if you have a family or personal history of cancer, don't delay in getting your routine screening and wellness exams.

Sources:

American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Famous People and Colorectal Cancer. Cancer Survivors Network. Accessed online June 10, 2015.

Kotz, D. (February 2015). What Farrah Fawcett Can Teach Us About Anal Cancer. Chicago Tribune. Accessed online June 15 2015.

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