Gerald McRaney & More Powerful Performers on Overcoming Lung Cancer

Gerald McRaney
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These four aren’t just skilled actors, TV personalities, and musicians — they’re also lung cancer survivors.

Gerald McRaney

Known for playing tough guys in Major Dad and Deadwood, the actor channeled that steeliness in his cancer fight. After a 2004 knee injury, his wife, Delta Burke (Designing Women), urged him to see a doctor. An eagle-eyed radiologist spotted a shadow on a chest X-ray during his checkup. Doctors caught the growth and removed it before it had a chance to spread. “The No. 1 thing is to adopt a positive mindset,” McRaney, 74, has said. “You’ve got to be prepared that you’re going into battle. But the battle can be won.”

Ronnie Wood

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Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood battled lung cancer in 2017, resulting in part of his lung being surgically removed. The 74-year-old praises his doctors but ultimately thanks God and a good outlook, which he learned from his struggles with addiction, for helping in his recovery. “When you hand the outcome over to your higher power, that is a magic thing,” Wood said earlier this year. “What will be will be. All I can do is stay positive in my attitude, be strong and fight it.”

Stefanie Powers

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The Hart to Hart star, 79, was diagnosed with an alveolar cell carcinoma in the late 2000s after two decades as a heavy smoker. She had part of her right lung removed, and the life-saving surgery prompted her to write her memoir and channel more of her energy into her passion for wildlife conservation. “It changes a lot about your plans,” Powers said. “Perhaps [it’s] the reason I didn’t fight to get back into Hollywood. Why should I do that to myself? Some things become less important, and you realize what is important.”

Bryant Gumbel

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In December 2009, the former Today show host stunned a live audience with a personal admission: He was being treated for lung cancer and had undergone surgery two months earlier to remove a malignant tumor. Gumbel was filling in for Regis Philbin on Live! With Regis and Kelly and had to explain to co-host Kelly Ripa why he couldn’t participate in a workout segment. “I kept it private,” Gumbel said to viewers, adding, “[But] it’s nothing to hide from.” Today, Gumbel, 73, is going strong, hosting HBO’s Real Sports.

Winning the War

Major strides are being made to increase survival rates of people diagnosed with lung cancer, and early detection has long been key. Yearly low-dose CT scans have been shown to be more effective than chest X-rays in screening for lung cancer in smokers or former smokers, and scientists are developing tests for early detection. New treatments focus on immunotherapy — activating the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells—as well as drugs that target specific gene mutations. But the best way to stay cancer-free? Quit smoking! For more information, contact the Lung Cancer Foundation of America at lcfamerica.org