Gone Too Soon: Tragic Celebrity Cancer Victims

David Bowie performs on stage.
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Mar. 25 2020, Updated 2:40 p.m. ET

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Entertainers — including musicians, actors and sports figures who we look up to — can come to seem like part of our family. Which is why it is extra hard when their lives are cut short and sometimes it can feel like we have lost a loved one.

MORE: Cancer-Stricken Alex Trebek’s History Of Health Battles Revealed

Everyone knows someone whose life has been affected tragically by cancer, and celebrities are no different. While their star may have been brilliant while with us, these celebrity cancer victims were tragically taken from us much too soon.

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1. Patrick Swayze.

Patrick Swayze poses for a photo.
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Famous for his movie roles in classics like Dirty Dancing and Ghost, actor Patrick Swayze tragically passed away at the age of 57, according to Radar Online. Swayze was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in 2008. While filming a new television series, the actor received chemotherapy at Stanford Medical Center where he also had surgery to remove part of his stomach. Sadly, these treatments did not work, and he died on September 14, 2009. His ashes were scattered at his ranch in New Mexico.

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2. Paul Newman.

Paul Newman sits with his hands folded.
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Academy Award winning actor Paul Newman passed away in 2008 at the age of 83 according to Radar Online. Newman lived a full life, but he was sadly stricken with lung cancer in June of 2008. He was treated at Sloan Kettering hospital in New York City before dying on September 26 of that year. He was also known for his food company, Newman’s Own, which donates profits to charity.

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3. Farrah Fawcett.

Farrah Fawcett rides a skateboard.
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Emmy Award nominated actress and 1970’s icon Farrah Fawcett was considered to be one of the greatest television performers of all time. The Six Million Dollar Man actress was loved by generations of television audiences. Tragically her time was cut short when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and died at the age of 62 in 2009. According to Radar Online, before her death the Charlies Angel’s star started her own cancer charity, The Farrah Fawcett Foundation, and donated over three million dollars to it.

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4. Adam Yauch.

Adam Yauch performs on stage.
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As a founding member of the Beastie Boys Adam Yauch was influential in early hip-hop music in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Known for hit songs like “Sabotage,” Yauch and his bandmates were a musical legacy. In 2009, the rapper was diagnosed with a cancerous parotid gland and underwent surgery and radiation therapy. Yauch, who was known to fans as “MCA,” died from cancer at the age of 47 in 2012, according to Radar Online.

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5. Aretha Franklin.

Aretha Franklin performs on stage.
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The beloved singer known around the world as “The Queen of Soul” was known for her classic hits, “Respect” and “A Natural Woman.” In 2009, she famously performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Tragically, on August 16, 2018, she passed away from a pancreatic tumor at her home at the age of 76, according to Radar Online.

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6. David Bowie.

David Bowie performs on stage.
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British rock star David Bowie was known for his hit songs spanning four decades, including the space travel themed, “Space Oddity.” He was also known for his wild stage costumes, which included his alter ego, “Ziggy Stardust.” Some of his last songs released were his most emotional. His final studio album, “Blackstar,” was released just two days before his 2016 death from liver cancer, according to Radar Online. Bowie had not made his illness public up until shortly before the album was released and it was intended to serve as a goodbye to his friends, family and fans.

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7. Alan Rickman.

Alan Rickman smiles on the red carpet.
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English actor Alan Rickman was known for many roles over a long career including Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise. Rickman even won an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe for his performances. Sadly, he passed away at age 69 from pancreatic cancer on January 14, 2016, according to Radar Online.

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8. Andy Kaufman.

Andy Kaufman poses for a photo.
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Comedian Andy Kaufman was known for his role on the television sitcom Taxi and his wild and bizarre onstage antics. The unconventional comic was later the subject of a biographical 1999 film — starring Jim Carrey as Kaufman — Man On The Moon. The film detailed the performers life, including his tragic lung cancer diagnosis and subsequent 1984 death at the young age of 35. According to Radar Online, many fans thought that the legendary prankster faked his own death.

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9. Bob Marley.

Bob Marley performs on stage.
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Reggae music superstar Bob Marley had an amazing career that saw him become one of the bestselling musical acts of all time. Tragically, the career of the “One Love” singer was cut short when he was diagnosed with acral lentiginous melanoma, a form of skin cancer, in 1977. After his death from the disease, in 1981, Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica, according to Radar Online.

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10. Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs speaks on stage.
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Steve Jobs was a visionary tech entrepreneur who helped revolutionize personal computing when he cofounded Apple Inc. by releasing one of the first commercially successful home computers. Jobs, who would also usher in the age of the smartphone, tragically had his historic career cut short at the age of 56. He died from a pancreatic tumor in 2011, according to Radar Online.

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11. Gilda Radner.

Gilda Radner smiles.
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Gilda Radner rose to fame as one of the original cast members on Saturday Night Live in 1975. She would even win an Emmy Award for her performances on the iconic sketch comedy show. In 1985 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and tragically died from the disease in 1989, according to Radar Online. Her death led her husband, fellow comedic actor Gene Wilder, to help spread awareness of the illness and help other cancer victims. Gilda’s Club was founded in her honor in 1991 as a network of places people fighting cancer, their friends and their family can go for support.

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