Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Andy Whitfield dies of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: We say farewell to a warrior

Andy Whitfield, who is best known for his role in Spartacus:  Blood & Sand, passed away on Sunday September 11, 2011.  He was just 39 years old.

No, to the best of my knowledge Andy was not a smoker!  Let's just get that part straight and out in the open now.

The reason we're here though paying tribute to him and saying farewell is to make sure we do not allow another casualty of the war on cancer (I refuse to consider this man a victim) to be in vain.

The Los Angeles Times posted an interesting article about Andy and Lymphoma. 

Lifestyle factors may influence non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a 2010 study in the journal Cancer found. People with the disease who also drank alcohol, were obese or smoked before they were diagnosed had generally worse survival rates compared with patients without those habits. Patients who had 20 or more years of smoking under their belt had a 76% higher risk of death compared with those who never smoked. And people who were obese had a 32% higher risk of death compared with those of normal weight."

So it's important to recognize here (actually vital) that smoking does not limit your cancer risk to only the obvious or what I like to call, the big three.  Lung cancer (Nat King Cole), throat cancer (Humphry Bogart) and emphysema (Dean Martin) are just the tip of the smoking related cancers iceberg.

Smoking puts you at risk for multiple cancers due to the stress you put on your immune system.  Patrick Swayze admitted that smoking probably "had something to do with" the development of his disease, pancreatic cancer.  Photos taken of a gaunt Swayze in the months before his death showed him continuing to smoke...  so take note smokers, your risk factors increase exponentially with every puff.

Now back to Andy.  We say good by to a warrior.  Not simply because he played Spartacus, but because he fought to the end.  May his fight inspire us to live each day to it's fullest, honor our bodies and cherish each moment we are given.  

While researching his story, I stumbled upon a statement from his wife, Vashti Whitfield which sums it up perfectly.

"On a beautiful sunny Sydney spring morning, surrounded by his family, in the arms of his loving wife, our beautiful young warrior Andy Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with lymphoma cancer. He passed peacefully surrounded by love. Thank you to all his fans whose love and support have help carry him to this point. He will be remembered as the inspiring, courageous and gentle man, father and husband he was."

Rest well mighty Andy, rest well.