The New York Times reports that Andy Whitfield has died Sunday at the age of 39. Apparently, and thankfully, he went peacefully with his family.
He starred in the absurdly excellent “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and unfortunately almost nothing else. His diagnosis of Non-Hodkins Lymphoma (NHL) forced him to leave the show. The cancer was caught early (stage one) however and he initially responded well to treatment. However the cancer returned and claimed his life less than 18 months from the initial diagnosis.
This hits particularly close to home as I was diagnosed with NHL (Follicular Lymphoma) two years ago. My disease is currently “indolent” (non-aggressive) and I’ve personally yet to suffer any treatments beyond regular scans to determine growth. The 5-year survival rate for Follicular Lymphoma is about 75% and many people can live with the disease for upwards of 20 years.
However, as little practical effect as this has had so far, that this will very likely be the death of me is rarely far from my thoughts. Seeing stories like Andy’s make me realize how truly lucky I’ve been in this. My thoughts go to Andy’s family who were not so lucky and who are deprived of, by all accounts, a truly excellent human being.
(If you’re interested in giving a little of your time to support blood cancer research you might consider talking part in a local Light the Night Walk.)