Lung cancer might not get as much attention as other forms of cancer, but it kills more men and women than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer combined. In 2011 (the most recent year for which statistics are available), 156,953 people in the United States died from lung cancer, including 86,736 men and 70,217 women.
Whether they were heavy smokers or never touched a cigarette, many celebrities across all decades have battled lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. While some of them have been more outspoken about their experience with the disease, others died before their diagnosis was even revealed. Here, 20 famous men and women who have battled lung cancer, the symptoms and treatments they faced, and how their legacy still lives on.
The disease has claimed the lives of many famous celebrities, but keep reading to the end to meet one famous athlete and one famous poet and activist who fought lung cancer – and won…
10. Carl Wilson
Carl Wilson, founding member of the Beach Boys—who created hits like “Good Vibrations” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”—was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer in the spring of 1997. While he was known for his voice, Wilson had been smoking since he was around 14 years old, his band member Mike Love told The Guardian. Wilson succumbed to the disease in 1998 with his family by his side. The group’s publicist Alyson Dutch said Wilson (pictured here during the early ’70s) had been diagnosed last year with cancer of the lung but still insisted on touring with the group while undergoing chemotherapy. A private funeral is planned for this week, Dutch said. “Even though he was diagnosed with cancer last year and going through treatment for a year, he was a real fighter,” his publicist said in statement. As Brian Wilson’s mental health deteriorated from the mid-’60s onwards, Carl’s input into the band grew. He contributed a number of songs to the ‘Surf’s Up’ album and produced the 1972 LP ‘Holland’.