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Tony Goldwyn On Advocating for Your Health and Asking for Help

Photos: Courtesy of Kevin Lynch

Actor, director, and producer Tony Goldwyn continues to advocate for proactive healthcare after losing his mother, to a fight with adenocarcinoma, a type of lung cancer, 30 years ago. 


Goldwyn described his mother as a person who, later in life, was dedicated to her health. In fact, she did yoga four times per week for the eight years prior to her death.

But in her younger years, Goldwyn’s mother smoked regularly. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 80 percent of lung cancer deaths are attributed to smoking. However, the real number may be higher.

For Goldwyn’s mother, the symptoms came on suddenly. One day, she had trouble catching her breath after going on a five-mile hike in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. Goldwyn insisted she see a doctor back in California where they lived. When she did, her doctor discovered a baseball-size tumor on her lung.

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Despite surgery and radiation treatments, the cancer continued to spread. On the night of the 1992 premiere for the movie “The Pelican Brief,” in which Goldwyn starred, his mother insisted he attend rather than stay at her bedside.

“She said, ‘You can’t cancel that,’” he recalled. “I literally got home from the premiere at 11 p.m., walked into her room and she was in extreme distress, and she died that night. And I have to believe she waited up so that I wouldn’t have to pass up these types of professional opportunities.”


Being proactive about health

To honor his mother’s legacy, Goldwyn wants people to know that while getting regular health checkups can be an opportunity to take proactive steps toward better health.

Stage and Film Actress Jennifer Howard, Tony Goldwyn’s mother.

“Taking responsibility for our care is so critical,” Goldwyn said. “Start getting engaged with your healthcare professionals. It will save you money, it will save you time, and potentially will prevent negative outcomes.”

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Asking for help

In addition to speaking openly with healthcare professionals, it’s important to recognize the support that loved ones can provide.

Goldwyn explained that his father, who also battled cancer, had trouble asking for help.  “He didn’t want to be a burden to anybody, and he didn’t want to admit to himself that he needed help,” Goldwyn said. “We were a tight-knit family and we sort of shoved ourselves in there.” He continued, “People want to be there for each other, and we must take care of the ones we love.”

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