The actor and comedian from Canada, Norm Macdonald, passed away on September 14 after a nine-year battle with cancer. He was arguably best known for his time as the host of Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update.” Age-wise, he was 61.
The management company for Macdonald, Brillstein Entertainment, informed Deadline of his passing. Many people were surprised by the revelation because he kept his diagnosis a secret. The comedian’s longtime producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra, who was present when he passed away, said of him, “He was most proud of his comedy.” “Norm will be sorely missed,” she continued. “He never wanted the diagnosis to impact the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him.
On Draftkings, one of the oddest props. Morikawa to miss the cult at +350. it took a long time to figure but the problem is last week I declared my pick as Morrikowa. Boy, would my face be red. evidently some inside knowledge on injuries.
— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) July 15, 2021
The week after her uncle’s passing, Andrea Macdonald, Macdonald’s niece, posted on Twitter, saying, “We formally bid Uncle Norm farewell today. Even after a week, talking about him in the past tense is awkward. While I was growing up, my Uncle Norm was many things to me.” Added she, “He was always good-natured and odd in a very endearing way. The tributes are simultaneously uplifting and devastating.”
What kind of Cancer did Norm Macdonald have?
Leukaemia was Norm Macdonald’s cause of death, according to his brother Neil Macdonald. In a CBC News interview, Neil said, “He kept it private because he didn’t want it to damage his comedy.” Acute leukaemia was another term used by the University of Colorado Cancer Center to describe Macdonald’s type of cancer.
Leukaemia comes in a variety of forms, however, the Cancer Center describes it as “a blood cancer that develops in the blood and bone marrow” as a general category of cancer. It “typically happens when the body overproduces aberrant white blood cells and disrupts the bone marrow’s ability to produce red blood cells and platelets.” According to the University of Colorado Malignancy Center, leukaemia, which was the sixth most fatal cancer between 2012 and 2016, accounts for about 33% of all diagnoses of blood cancer.
Understanding Acute Leukaemia
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), which primarily affects older adults, and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), which primarily affects children, are the two main types of acute leukaemia. Norm Macdonald’s age, according to the University of Colorado Cancer Center, is “quite uncommon” for AML.
Acute leukaemia strikes people with a diagnosis suddenly. Patients frequently have reduced life expectancies as a result of it being frequently very aggressive. Patients with chronic leukaemia, the other major classification of the leukaemia, generally have higher survival times than those with acute leukaemia. However, those with acute leukaemia typically have a limited life expectancy or are treated, according to Dr Dan Pollyea, clinical director of leukaemia services at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
Given the prognosis Dr Pollyea gave patients with acute leukaemia, Macdonald’s nearly ten years of survival following diagnosis would undoubtedly make his case unusual. The American Society of Clinical Oncology states that individuals with AML often live up to five years.
Leukaemia: causes, risk factors, and symptoms
There is no known, scientifically verified aetiology of leukaemia at this time. Leukaemia “seems to originate from a combination of hereditary and environmental causes,” according to the Mayo Clinic, which is the best prediction. Although, according to specialists, a person is more likely to get leukaemia if they smoke, have certain genetic problems, such as Down syndrome, frequently come into contact with chemicals, or have a family history of the disease.
Leukaemia, according to medical professionals, develops as a result of a DNA mutation in blood cells. DNA gives instructions to healthy cells on how to divide and die at regular intervals. DNA gives instructions to altered cells on how to keep dividing and growing. As a result, the number of healthy cells in the bone marrow eventually becomes outnumbered by the growing number of aberrant cells that develop as a result of erroneous blood cell synthesis. Less healthy white, red, and platelet blood cells are produced as a result, which frequently results in leukaemia.
While signs and symptoms of different types of leukaemia might vary, some typical ones include persistent tiredness or weakness, fever, unexpected weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, easy bleeding or bruising, excessive night sweating, and bone pain or stiffness.
What are the treatments for leukaemia?
The University of Colorado Cancer Center was informed by Dr Dan Pollyea that there are, alas, no leukaemia screening tests available. However, it is in your best interest to contact a doctor if any combination of well-known symptoms lasts for a prolonged period.
According to WebMD, if the patient’s condition is stable, some forms of chronic leukaemia may not require therapy. Other than that, doctors have a variety of options available to them, based on the patient’s age, leukaemia type, and general health. These can include, among others, chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell transplant.
Leukaemia is incurable at the time of writing, while treatment-induced remission is a possibility for some patients (via Healthline). Medical professionals cannot detect cancer in the body during remission, but recurrence is still a possibility. The good news is that clinical trials are still being conducted to find better screening procedures and therapies. A list of trials that are accepting participants can be found on the National Cancer Institute’s website.
Norm Macdonald isn’t the only celeb to have been diagnosed with leukaemia
Other famous people have received a leukaemia diagnosis besides Norm Macdonald. After receiving a successful course of treatment, TV star Evan Handler, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia at the age of 24 and given six months to live, continued his acting career and played a variety of parts, including Charlotte’s husband on HBO’s “Sex and the City” (via HealthGrades).
Ashley Park, who portrays the sassy and bubbly Mindy Chen on the popular Netflix series “Emily in Paris,” as well as Gretchen Wieners in the Broadway production of “Mean Girls,” was diagnosed with leukaemia as a teenager, just as she was getting ready to make her Broadway debut. After years of avoiding the subject, Park revealed to Cosmopolitan in 2020 that her experience with chemotherapy is now her “most distinguishing trait as an artist and a person.”
The renowned Nora Ephron, according to The New York Times, also suffered from leukaemia. She also had acute myeloid leukaemia, and like Norm Macdonald, she passed away as a result of it (source: University of Colorado Cancer Center).