jane fonda, 84, is undergoing chemo for non-hodgkin's lymphoma

the "grace and frankie" star isn't the only celebrity to receive a non-hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis. spartacus actor andy whitfield died in 2011 at age 39, just 18 months after his initial diagnosis.

the icon says she is "handling treatments well"
jane fonda announced she is receiving chemo treatment for non-hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. (photo by caroline mccredie/getty images for chopard)

jane fonda, one of hollywood’s most enduring stars, has revealed on instagram that she’s been diagnosed with non-hodgkin’s lymphoma — “a very treatable cancer. 80 per cent of people survive, so i feel very lucky.”

the 84-year-old academy award winner and fitness icon says she’s doing six months of chemotherapy and “handling the treatments quite well.”

fonda was at a higher risk for lymphoma because of her age, people magazine reports , as risk for all cancers increases for anyone over the age of 60. and while she’s always been committed to a healthy lifestyle, she writes on instagram, “the cancer, along with my age — almost 85 — definitely teaches the importance of adapting to new realities.”

the “grace and frankie” star, who has built a reputation in recent years as a climate change activist, also said that more needs to be done to address the root causes of cancer, including pesticides.

what is non-hodgkin’s lymphoma?

non-hodgkin’s lymphoma (nhl) is a blood cancer; it’s the fifth most common cancer in canada, according to lymphoma canada , with about 11,000 people diagnosed each year. men are diagnosed slightly more often than women, and while nhl can develop in children and young adults, most people diagnosed are 50 and older.



of the estimated 11,000 people diagnosed, about 3,000 people will die, says the canadian cancer society .

nhl is not a single disease but a group of more than 80 closely related cancers that affect the infection-fighting white blood cells called lymphocytes in the immune system. these white blood cells grow abnormally and can form tumours throughout the body. the other main type of lymphoma is hodgkin lymphoma, which is far less common.

what are the signs of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma?

there are several types of nhl that develop and spread in different ways, and affect how patients are treated. there are some common signs such as a cough and flu-like symptoms as well as swollen lymph nodes in the neck, under the arms or in the groin that may get larger or smaller. you may also experience a rash or itchiness, stomach pain, numbness in hands and feet, unexplained weight loss or excessive night sweating that can drench your pyjamas or sheets. some people don’t experience any symptoms at all.

lymphoma has a link to stomach ulcers

reasons for developing the cancer are not known, but people with a weakened immune system or possible chemical exposure from benzene or certain pesticides or herbicides are at higher risk. also, infection with the bacteria helicobacter pylori, which may cause stomach ulcers, can increase the risk of developing lymphoma in the stomach lining.

powered by
the leukemia & lymphoma society of canada (llsc)



treatment can include chemo, drug therapy and radiation

depending on the exact type and stage of cancer, treatment can involve chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, surgery, bone marrow transplant and engineering immune cells, according to the mayo clinic .

while the number of new cases of nhl has been going up since the early 1980s, the rate of death has been going down since 1999, says cancer care ontario . survival is cited as average compared with other cancers. about 68 per cent of people diagnosed will survive for at least five years.

fonda isn’t the only celebrity to bring attention to nhl — welsh-born actor andy whitfield of the tv hit “spartacus: blood and sand” died in 2011 at age 39, just 18 months after his initial diagnosis, former red sox manager john farrell was diagnosed with nhl in 2015, and film director sidney lumet died of lymphoma at age 86 in 2011.

for more information about non-hodgkin’s lymphoma visit cancer care ontario to read guidelines on managing symptoms, side effects and overall well-being. and lymphoma canada provides outreach, education as well as the opportunity to connect with other patients and families and friends.

karen hawthorne is a toronto-based writer.
thank you for your support. if you liked this story, please send it to a friend. every share counts.


postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. we ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. we have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. visit our community guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.