Kathryn Joosten: An Inspiration

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Today, I received one of those mails that has a tendency to get passed on when people receive them. It was about Kathryn Joosten who died last Sunday (June 2nd), finally beaten by the lung cancer with which she had first been diagnosed back in 2001.

She will be remembered for many things, not least, her determination to de-stigmatise the lung cancer condition itself. As she pointed out, it is a disease for which people tend to have less tolerance than other forms of cancer because of its relationship with smoking.

The notion of ‘if you have ‘done it to yourself’ you may be getting your just deserts’ is an attitude she campaigned to eradicate.

Of course, lung cancer is a dreadful disease and, as Kathryn pointed out, it may be less ‘sexy’ than breast cancer, but it kills more women than all the other cancers combined. Sadly, my neighbour passed away recently, another victim of this awful disease. Cynthia may have been less well known, but, in her own way, she too was an inspiration during her life.

But Kathryn Joosten, famous for her acting roles in The West Wing and Desperate Housewives, didn’t start acting until she was 42 years old. She got to Hollywood when she was in her fifties and took her first major role at the age of 59. By the time she died, aged 72, she had won two Emmys and, of course, she won the hearts of millions of people all over the world.

Because of her work in raising awareness for lung cancer, she allowed her condition to be written into the plot of Desperate Housewives and her character died in the final episode of the last series which was broadcast just three weeks before her own death.

Amongst the many lessons to be taken from a life well lived, is the one that you are never too old to pursue your dreams.

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