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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Encore Presentation: Dana Reeve Remembered
Aired March 12, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Christopher Reeve's widow Dana Reeve lost her brave battle with lung cancer Monday night, less than seven months after her shocking announcement that she was ill and a year and a half after her husband passed away.
And now to reflect on her inspirational life, her tragic death and her legacy of love and devotion, Lance Armstrong, Dana Reeve's friend, the legendary athlete and cancer survivor; ABC news correspondent Deborah Roberts, Dana Reeve's friend and her co-host on the show "Lifetime Live;" Senator John Kerry, close friend of Dana Reeve who campaigned for him when he ran for the White House; renowned spiritual adviser Deepak Chopra who also knew Dana Reeve; Dr. Maya Angelou, whose poems inspired Dana Reeve after Chris' death; Marianne Williamson, the best-selling author and lecturer on spirituality; and Kathy Lewis, president of the Christopher Reeve Foundation.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Sad day when you a friend. Lance Armstrong lost a friend today, a very close friend of Dana Reeve's. How did you hear about it, Lance?
LANCE ARMSTRONG, FRIEND OF DANA REEVE: Well, I was actually in Montreal speaking at some events with President Clinton and I woke up this morning and turned on my Blackberry and the e-mails just started to flood through and give me the news and I was -- I just sat there in my hotel room in complete disbelief.
And, you know, I knew that -- obviously I knew Dana was sick and knew that the last couple weeks were rough but, you know, I didn't wake -- I didn't expect to wake up this morning and get that news.
KING: You did know they were rough though recently?
ARMSTRONG: I did. I talked to Marcia Williams (ph) who has been with her recently and I talked to her about a week ago and she said that there were a couple days in there where it was really touch and go, almost hour by hour. So, I had a feeling that, you know, we were potentially getting to the end here but, you know, regardless and whenever you get that final news it's tough.
KING: Dr. Maya Angelou, the famed poet, her poems were an inspiration to Dana and to Chris, how did you hear about it dear?
DR. MAYA ANGELOU, FRIEND OF DANA REEVE: I heard about it from your office. I had not turned on television or radio for two days and I received an e-mail from your office and my office said "You must read this" and it brought me to my knees.
I had no idea that we were nearly that close. She was such a brave and spiritual woman and having just lost one a few weeks ago it brought me to my knees.
KING: Yes, with Dana Reeve's passing today their teenage son Will faces yet another difficult challenge. When Dana joined us in February, 2005 she talked to us about the relationship Will had with his father. Watch.
KING: I was fortunate enough to be invited to the wonderful memorial service that you put together for Chris and Will stole the night. He spoke eloquently. How is he doing?
DANA REEVE: He's doing well. It's amazing to me. He has a resiliency that is very much like his dad. He's doing remarkably well. I was so proud of him that day.
KING: Good in school?
REEVE: He does great in school and he's got a lot -- there's a very strong gene pool there I think. I mean I was -- I was so proud of him. The poise that he showed and he was funny and articulate and he wrote every word of this tribute that he wrote for his dad and, yes, he's a good -- he's a good kid and he's a hockey player and he's good in school and Chris was always very, very proud of him.
KING: And most of his memories are post accident right?
REEVE: Pretty much. He was only -- he was -- it was right before his third birthday when Chris had his accident and, in fact, we -- we celebrated Will's third birthday while Chris was still in the hospital in Virginia. And he, most of his memories I would say are from videotape and stories. He has a couple, I guess like we all do.
But he really in so many ways I feel so grateful for those nine and a half years that he got to really know his dad and what a strong and funny and wise and encouraging father he was and it really made Will the extraordinary child that I think he is.
KING: Deepak Chopra is in Rome, Italy tonight. Deepak, how do you deal with or advise people on grieving?
DEEPAK CHOPRA, FRIEND OF DANA REEVE: Well, you have to go through the process. You have to not suppress it. You have to get in touch with those feelings. You have to express them. You have to share them. And ultimately you have to move on.
The tragic part of this story is that there's such a phenomenon when there's deep emotional bonding between two people that biological responses sort of become co-dependent in a way and separation and love, when love is so (INAUDIBLE) leads to something called limbic dissonance which can cause physiological chaos.
And one wonders, you know, that the intensity of love that these two people shared would have anything to do with the intensity of the biological relationship the two of them had.
KING: Marianne, the problem with death is it's so final.
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, AUTHOR AND LECTURER ON SPIRITUALITY: Well, except that from a spiritual perspective it's not final at all. The life of the body does end but the life of the spirit continues. So, on a human level, of course, this is a very, very sad day, particularly sad because of her son.
But I think a lot of people today if they're honest with themselves had a kind of double reaction. You know your first reaction is, oh how horrible and she was so young and she's got that child.
But then something else, some place in the heart comes after that with how beautiful this is in some way that they're together. I mean it's some part of their great love story I think.
So, we live in two worlds simultaneously, the life of the body and the life of the spirit and I don't think that death is the end of a book. It's just the end of a chapter and theirs was such a great love story in life and now in death. So, I think that deeper realm exists simultaneously and I think many people feel it tonight.
KING: Kathy Lewis, president of the Christopher Reeve Foundation, how recently had you been with Dana?
KATHY LEWIS, FRIEND OF DANA REEVE: I saw Dana last week in the hospital and we had a lovely visit. She was in great spirits, a little tired from her treatment but she had a great sense of humor and it was apparent that evening.
We just shared stories about life and about her son. He had just gotten into a new school. And we just had a lovely conversation. She had such spirit up until the end.
KING: Did she die in the hospital?
LEWIS: Yes, she did.
KING: How were you told?
LEWIS: Oh, I had a phone call a little after midnight last night. It was a very long night, not unexpected but extraordinarily sad.
KING: So then you knew after visiting her that this was pretty grave?
LEWIS: Yes I did.
KING: Was she brave?
LEWIS: Oh, beyond brave. I mean she lived her life with such dignity and grace her whole life and up to the very end, extraordinarily brave woman.
KING: Do you know how this went so fast?
LEWIS: Oh, I don't really know but cancer is an awful disease and it really ravages the body very quickly, especially lung cancer in a young woman.
KING: We'll be right back with more. Deborah Roberts of ABC News will be joining us as well. Senator Kerry will be calling in. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REEVE: I made a vow to Chris when we married that I would love him and I would be with him in sickness and in health and I did OK with that. But there's another vow that I need to amend today. I promised to love, honor and cherish him until death did us part. Well, I can't do that because I will love, honor and cherish him forever. Goodbye to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Lots of people talking about the loss of Dana Reeve tonight. In a statement today, Catherine Zeta Jones calls Dana "an inspirational woman who showed great courage and grace throughout her life. I loved her and she will be greatly missed.
Joining us now in our panel is Deborah Roberts. In New York City, Deborah is ABC News correspondent, a friend and former co-host on "Lifetime Live," a daily talk show that they did together with Dana on Lifetime Television.
How did you hear about it Deborah?
DEBORAH ROBERTS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Larry, today I was at the University of Georgia, my alma mater, giving a speech and I literally just got off the plane just now. I was about to give a speech before some students and my cell phone kept going off and going off and going off. And, I finally picked it up and I figured it was probably something very important and it was ABC News calling to give me the sad news.
KING: You worked with her right?
ROBERTS: I worked with Dana on a program on Lifetime called "Lifetime Live." We worked together about a year and a half and I have to say it was a real gift. I still treasure those months and just times I spent with Dana. It was really, really great. Her spirit, everybody keeps talking about her spirit. But, you know, one thing I really remember about her is in some ways sort of her ordinariness. I mean Dana liked to think of herself as just another mom, another suburban mom, a woman who just did what she needed to do to look after her family and I was really touched by the fact that she didn't see anything really extraordinary about her life.
KING: Did you know how sick she was?
ROBERTS: I regrettably did not know how sick she was. Like so many other people I was pulling for Dana and I was told sometimes when I called that she was hanging in there and she was doing pretty well.
I guess I wanted to really feel and believe and hope like everybody else that maybe, just maybe she might be the one who would overcome this horrible, horrible disease and I was as surprised as so many of you were today.
KING: Lance, what is it like to live with it?
ARMSTRONG: To live with news like this or to live with the disease?
ARMSTRONG: Oh, yes it's not easy. I mean everything about it, if it's surgery, if it's therapy, chemotherapy or radiation it's incredibly difficult. It's difficult to get that news. It's difficult to go through the process of trying to fix your body and fix your mind and your spirit.
It's terrible and once again we're reminded that this illness is just way too calm and way too prevalent and it strikes people that we never think that it will strike.
I mean Dana Reeve, 44 years old, dies of lung cancer. Most people say well perhaps she smoked. She never smoked a cigarette her whole life. I mean here's a lady that lived a perfect life, lived a healthy life and she's struck by lung cancer.
It doesn't make sense and it's not fair. And, you know, for me as a cancer survivor I stand up and say that has to change in this country. We have to fix that problem.
KING: Your old sweetheart, Sheryl Crow, has breast cancer. Do you know how well she's doing?
ARMSTRONG: You know, she's doing well and, as you -- yes, it's not been a good week for me and getting news like this. That was the first part of the week. I was obviously reminded with her situation and now with this.
But, Sheryl's doing great. She's the strongest woman I've ever met and she's got great doctors and her prognosis is close to 100 percent and I firmly believe that she'll be fine.
KING: That's terrific. So, in your opinion she will recover?
ARMSTRONG: Oh, I'm 100 percent confident she'll recover. I know that woman I think better than anybody except for perhaps her parents and her family and she's as focused of a lady as they come.
KING: It's great to know you're still friends though. That's good.
ARMSTRONG: We try. It's hard to be in that situation and to go through a break up of an engagement and to have somebody diagnosed right in the middle of it but Sheryl knows that I love her very much and I'd be -- I would be there either close or far anytime she needed me and I'm confident she'll be fine.
KING: You'll be a great help to her.
Joining us on the phone is Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee for president, good friend of this show and a frequent guest as well. Senator Kerry, how well did you know Dana?
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS (by telephone): Well, I didn't know Dana as well as I knew Chris but I -- but I knew her through Chris and through the family. She honored Chris and honored me and the whole campaign effort by coming to Ohio literally about a week and a half, less than two weeks after Chris died and joined me in an event there where she introduced me with this most unbelievable courage, unbelievable sort of glow in her.
And I sort of looked at her and I said, you know, you just seem so calm and so composed and so focused and sure of where you're going. And, she said it was Christopher. I mean it was just Chris. She was doing what Chris wanted her to do and going through it.
And, I think you know as you -- as you sort of measure what she did all those years, I mean she gave up so much herself to become a caretaker and to carry the burden. She really was stunning. I mean I have to tell you that I've seen people in tough situations and a lot of different folks who show courage but she showed about as much as any person I've ever seen.
KING: How do you explain it?
KERRY: God explains it. I don't. I mean this is, you know, this is one of those imponderables that get everybody else in touch with people who are suffering, with people who lose things and maybe it's God's way of, you know, making sure we all check in on what we're doing and how we're doing it.
It's one of those big questions everybody always asks themselves when you have young people dying young and we see too much of it. But, on the other hand, in suffering you can find a lot of answers to things.
I mean if you go read the letters, I don't mean to act religious here but read the letters of St. Paul who addresses suffering about as well as any suffering of anything I've ever seen and it sort of helps you understand how you make sense out of it all.
Look, she was an example to millions and millions of people and lots of people found inspiration through her and through her life and that's a gift and that's what we have to sort of take out of it.
I mean, you know, it's really funny, Larry, I'll tell you when she -- when she came to Ohio. I have right here in front of me what she said and she said -- she said, "Eleven days ago a light went out in my life. When Chris died the world lost a truly inspirational leader. I lost my best friend.
And I've been grieving privately the past week and a half surrounded by close friends and family trying to help the children start to piece together life without their dad.
My inclination would be to remain private for a good, long while but I came here today in support of John Kerry because this is so important. This is what Chris wanted. And, although our family feels Chris' loss so keenly right now today is the right moment to transform our grief into hope. Chris is the beacon guiding me."
And that's -- that's how -- that's how she sort of lived together with him. I mean they both were beacons to all of us and I think we ought to be very, very grateful to it.
You know the question is really, you know, what are we going to do with this? You know are we going to have the Larry King show tonight and sort of go through this public grieving which is important but she wouldn't be happy with that and he wouldn't unless we translate it into what they were fighting for, which is, you know, a cure to these kinds of things.
And they both believed deeply in the ability of science and research to be able to provide that and that's what they were fighting for. That's what we need to keep fighting for.
KING: Thank you, Senator. Thank you for joining us.
KERRY: Great to be with you, thanks.
KING: Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts; back with more after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: And when I was in rehab every time she came in the door (INAUDIBLE) I would say "here comes your medication man."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The passing of Dana Reeve from actor Paul Newman, "She was vibrant. She was stylish. She was tough. She was caring. And, she will be sorely missed." And from Dana and Chris' very close friend actor Robin Williams, "The brightest light has gone out. We will forever celebrate her loving spirit."
Dr. Maya Angelou, what about going on after grief? I know you've written about so many things. Isn't this the hardest thing?
ANGELOU: It is very hard. It's very hard to lose someone. It's very hard to miss someone. However, it is also important to realize that you did have him. You did have her. Some people go through their lives without ever having had that.
My mother had a belief that most people marry other people's mates. In this case of Dana and Chris they married their mates. And so, it does -- I agree with Deepak. It does not surprise me. It saddens me but it did not surprise me that some energy in the universe would bring her to him so quickly. It didn't surprise me. I wish I had had more time with her.
ANGELOU: Do you see?
KING: Deepak, do you believe in that energy?
CHOPRA: I do, Larry, but there are three things that are really, you know, we should pay attention to. One is what Senator John Kerry said. Are we doing everything in order to find the causes of things like this and cure them? And, I think -- I wish our president and our government would support stem cell research which is something that both Chris and Dana cared about. They were very strong advocates of that research.
And then, of course, the issues that Maya and my friend Marianne brought up does consciousness survive death? Who are we? The deep conundrums of our existence, you know, we are so inseparable from each other and we're so contained in each other and love is such an important thing that one way of interpreting this is that she is with her husband as consciousness.
And she is, you know, if we are not just our physical bodies then there is grief and loss for us but maybe she's in a deeper realm of existence where she can continue to nurture her love.
KING: Marianne, isn't that a good way to feel though, even if it's not true, it's kind of a good way to feel?
WILLIAMSON: Well, I think for those of us who feel that way we don't see this -- we don't see faith as just a coping mechanism. There are those of us, millions of people, billions perhaps who have in a way greater faith in a world unseen than we have faith in what the eyes perceive. This isn't just something that makes us feel good. It's something which gives us a sense of rooted-ness in a life that doesn't die and a life of meaning and purpose.
I think that Senator Kerry and really most people on the program already have spoken of the meaning of this moment and in the midst of the sadness that we feel there's holiness right here. We're reminded what matters and what matters is that we love each other. You know the beauty of Dana and Chris was that they lived lives in service to those who live and that's why Deepak's bringing up, along with others, about our working for stem cell research, our working also the hypocrisy of this country bemoaning, you know, all these cancers while we are so lax with our environmental regulations, all the carcinogens in our food and our air and our water.
So, for us to live fully is to live in that place where death itself is less important. The issue is to live more fully, to live more fully in service to those who live, to live so that we can in some way take what Dana embodied, a woman of passion, a woman of purpose.
That's the issue now. How can we in a way be more like her? And I think that we all feel that where she is now she's getting a just reward and until we get there we have work to do.
KING: The last time Dana was on the show I asked her if she and Chris talked about dying before he passed away and Dana shared these thoughts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. REEVE: We were living a life that was really always on the edge. There was a lot of challenge and a lot of hardship. When you live with a spinal cord injury there are life-threatening situations on a regular basis. There are a lot of issues that you deal with.
And, we were not afraid to have big talks and we were not afraid of emotion and luckily though in a way I think people take for granted sometimes their life and what they have and we were very much aware of what we had and the gift of life and that's one of the ironic hidden gifts behind disability is that you just realize that the gifts that you have are precious, family and relationships.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Kathy Lewis, what happens to the foundation now that you've lost your spokesman?
LEWIS: Well, you know, the foundation goes forward. It's been here for years before Chris and Dana were involved and it's going to go forward. I mean we really embody the spirit of Dana. You know Dana talked about feeling Chris but we all feel Dana and Chris with us every day and we are here to make sure that their vision becomes a reality.
KING: But don't you need kind of an up front person?
LEWIS: Well there's always celebrities and spokespeople involved. We have a lot of people living with paralysis who are spokespersons for us. We have a huge dedicated staff and board of directors that are here to help lead the way.
KING: We'll take a break and be right back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KING: Yours was a happy marriage though right?
C. REEVE: It was, is and will be.
KING: But before the accident it was a happy marriage?
C. REEVE: Yes.
KING: Happier after?
C. REEVE: Yes, even so because I mean I joke with her. I said, you know, in sickness and in health. I said well I really put these vows to the test.
KING: Why is it happier for you?
C. REEVE: Well, because everything, every moment is so precious. I nearly died twice in 1995, so I've been to the edge and back and the fact, you know, that everything that we do, every place we go, everything we see we share it in a new light and that really is just a triumph.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE.
Another statement regarding Dana Reeve's death. Jane Seymour, Chris' "Somewhere in Time" co-star and friend: "She was Chris' angel. She showed us all the true power of love. An unflinching optimist who never let anything get her down, and, if she did, she never showed us. She was an amazing mother who tried to give Will and Chris a normal family life despite the difficulties."
Lance Armstrong, how did you come to know Dana?
ARMSTRONG: Well, I really came to know her through Robin and Marsha Williams. And when she was diagnosed, Marsha called me, and actually I started talking to Marsha. And she said, "I have a friend who's just been diagnosed with lung cancer," and she didn't really say, but I got to know Dana through them, and, you know, through that process, talking to her, and just trying to be a friend to her, and a person who's been through the experience.
And I'll never forget. The five of us went to the U.S. Open this year to watch Andre play in the final. And she walked in the room, and I was like, "Are you serious?" I mean, she looked so gorgeous. I was like, "Why can't we all look that way when we're diagnosed and being treated?"
And I was stunned that the lady was even sick. And just getting to know her through that and watching her that day -- and this is a long, hot day in the sun -- and she hung in there so well. And Will, her son, obviously, was a big sports fan, was just so excited to be there and jumping all over the place. And for me, it was a special day. I'll never forget it as long as I live.
KING: When you hear you have cancer, as you heard it, as your former fiancee has heard it, as Dana heard it, nothing is the same, right? From that minute, nothing is the same.
ARMSTRONG: Yes, I mean, that day -- that's my new birthday. I mean, I celebrate that day every year. I have since I was diagnosed in '96. And this year will be a 10-year anniversary, and it's still a great day. It's still the best day of the year.
And, you know, the thing that we have to keep in mind is that my disease is different than Dana's, it's different than Sheryl's, it's different than prostate cancer. They're all so different, and it complicates things for the public, I think, because, you know, they look at me and they say, "Well, wait a minute. Why have you lived 10 years, and you won seven Tour de France, and you've done all these things, meanwhile Dana died last night? Why is that?"
And the answer is simple, because they're all so different. And they're researched differently. They're treated differently, diagnosed and monitored differently. You know, we have to educate people to that.
But, like everybody said on the program, I mean, it's time for this country to stand up and say it's not acceptable. I mean, we declared the war on cancer 35 years ago. And quite honestly, not a lot has changed. And for the first time in 30 years, we're going to see a decrease in the budget at the NCI.
KING: Deborah Roberts, what was she like to work with?
ROBERTS: Oh, Larry, she was just a ball of fire. You know, so many people keep talking about her amazing spirit, her optimism. But, you know, it's really true. She was just so much fun.
And, you know, I had known Dana a couple of times. I'd seen her around, I think, before we worked together. But, you know, we intimately got the chance to spend some time every day.
And she was a lot of fun. She was optimistic. She was another mom who was always quick to share advice with me when I was dealing with a toddler at the time. She had a wicked sense of humor. You know, could just laugh at the silliest joke, but she also was passionate, passionate about, you know, politics, political issues.
If she felt that you came down on the wrong side, she had no tolerance for that. Stem-cell research, as you've heard, was a major, major passion of hers. And she had no tolerance for anyone who was not informed, who didn't really know the issues.
If anything, Dana was as smart as a whip and so, so concerned about this country, this world. And she really had a lot to say about it, and she was passionate. KING: During the darkest moments following Chris' injury, Dana was there to support him every step of the way. And when Chris contemplated suicide, Dana made a pact with him. When she was here on the show, she told me what it was and how she kept Chris' spirits high.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Dana, I know it's discussed in the book. But when Christopher was on this show, one of the first times he was on, maybe the first time, he said one of the things he thought about doing when this first happened was killing himself. Did he relay that thought to you at that time, Dana?
D. REEVE: Early, early on, yes. Really, right after he had regained consciousness in the hospital in Virginia, he talked about it. We discussed it, actually, as an option.
And it was something that he, you know -- because I think everyone does this. You have these late-night conversations with your loved ones or your friends. And you say, if such and such ever happens to me, I don't want to live. And that had been a discussion. But...
C. REEVE: Briefly, yes.
D. REEVE: What's that? Briefly. Well, it had been just a brief one, put before the accident, just the idea of what you imagine you can withstand. And then the reality is they're two different things.
KING: And he told me he stayed alive because of you, but you say in the book that you said, "Let's give it two years and, if after two years, you still want to kill yourself, I'll help you."
D. REEVE: Well, that was more of a -- you call it a salesman tactic.
C. REEVE: Yes, that's what a car salesman does, is...
D. REEVE: If you don't like it, you can return it.
C. REEVE: You know, you try it, you don't like it, bring it back. It will be fine. We'll give you a refund.
D. REEVE: I figured that after...
C. REEVE: Two years, two years of living (INAUDIBLE) because our dog at our house and our loved ones, it's like, no way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Still have that sense of humor.
Palm Beach, Florida, hello?
CALLER: Hello, this is for Kathy Lewis. Dana Reeve's death so soon after her husband Christopher is heartbreaking. But I read that President Bush's 2007 budget cuts billions of dollars from health care grants. And this would kill the entire budget of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center. Doesn't this add to the tragedy of Dana and Christopher's deaths?
LEWIS: Oh, absolutely. The president's budget did come out without funding for the resource center, which really was Dana's dream. She was so involved in putting this resource together.
It was so important to her to make sure that, when people had a spinal cord injury or any kind of paralysis, they had a place to go for information. This really was her dream to have happen. So, in light of the president cutting it out of the budget, and in light of Dana's death yesterday, it is even more tragic.
KING: Dr. Angelou, with all you see around you, are you an optimist?
ANGELOU: Yes, I am an optimist, because we're here on this program, because there is Mary, because there is Deepak, because of you, because of all the women and men here, because of us, because we can change things.
We have changed things already, and we must admit that. And we can change things again. The only thing is we must take some spirit from both Dana and Chris and agree to develop courage. It's the most important of all the virtues, because, without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.
So we have got to take from the men and women who have gone before us, in particular, in this case, Dana and Christopher Reeve, and really press ourselves and press our representatives to make the country more aware, one, of our responsibility to each other, and how much we can do to save ourselves.
But we have to have courage to do so, because somebody will roar or turn around and say, "What are you, a jerk? What are you, a do- gooder? What are you, a right-winger or a left-winger or something?" And there somebody will lose their courage, and they lose the name of action.
We've got to remember -- I'm sorry to be sounding like a preacher. But we've got to remember that we live in direct relation to the heroes and heroes we have, in always and in always.
KING: Well said. We'll take a break and be right back with more. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. REEVE: Just when you think you're coming out, you know, and you think, "OK, that's all right; I see the light at the end of the tunnel," then I got this diagnosis in the summer. And it's been -- you start to wonder. It's a rocky road. But I do feel that, with the support that I've received, and just our family unit is so tight, that we're going to get through this like we got through everything else. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Here's a statement from Chris Reeve's brother, Benjamin, who I spoke to today. "On behalf of Dana's family, that part of Dana that was mortal we shall now commit to the Earth, while we hope that a part immortal goes on in the memory and care of each and every one of the rest of us who remain and who are committed to the same rightful causes and good purposes that inspired her. May we thus continue to celebrate her life."
Deepak, with all the sadness and tragedy you see around you, what gives you hope?
CHOPRA: Well, actually it's not just hope. You know, hope can sometimes be just a reflection of despair. We now have scientific evidence there's a new paradigm that consciousness survives the death of the molecules through which it expresses itself.
We are spirit. We are souls. We are part of a greater wholeness. And that is something that science and spirituality are bringing to us together. So religious insights, spiritual insights, the experience of great seers in ancient times, and today's modern insights all give us a measure of hope, and consolation, and also some feeling that we are part of a bigger wholeness, Larry.
I think that one thing that people who are listening to this, one thing that Lance Armstrong said, there are many kinds of cancer. And, you know, there's never any reason to get disheartened. Cancer patients should believe the diagnosis so they can take action, but never believe the prognosis because statistics never applies to the individual.
It's like saying, "The average temperature in New York City is 70," but it doesn't tell me what the temperature is today. Or the average income of a person in Los Angeles is $100,000. It doesn't tell me what your income is, if you're coming from Los Angeles.
So do not buy into the statistics. Always, always believe the diagnosis -- take action -- but never the prognosis. And Lance Armstrong is an example to prove it.
KING: Marianne, what keeps your optimism going?
WILLIAMSON: Well, I think that optimism, in a way, is a moral imperative. I think it's your responsibility to live in hope, because hope means that you have faith that God can change your heart. God can change people.
And I think that situations like this sometimes are what change us most. I think, like you were talking about how life changes the day someone gets diagnosed with a life-challenging illness, life changes when we suffer a moment like this and it makes us think, "What am I doing? Why are we making ultimately unimportant things important when life itself is what's so important? Our love for each other is what's so important."
And if enough of us do that, that's what hope is based on. Hope is based on the fact that this country can wake up, that people can say, "What am I doing? This is midterm elections. Are my representatives or my senatorial candidates standing for stem-cell research and other kinds of funding for cancer research? Am I loving the people around me as much as I might, my friends, my loved ones, my children?" That's, to me, what hope is based on, that God can make us the people that we need to be so that we can change this world.
KING: Chico, California, hello?
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I just would like to send my condolences to the families of -- to the Reeve's family. But I would like to ask if any of the panel has any advice for families who are going through something similar and cancer. My fiance has a loved one who is dying of lung cancer right now. And if any of the panel has any advice for families.
KING: I'm sure -- Lance?
ARMSTRONG: Well, Larry, it's tough for me to say, because, obviously, I am a cancer survivor, but I have never been in a position like this where, for example, my mom or a brother, which I don't have, was diagnosed, and I lived with them through that.
So I've been blessed, in the sense that nobody near and dear to me has been diagnosed and died of cancer. This has obviously been a bad week. But growing up in the last 34 years, I wasn't in that position.
But as a survivor, I can tell you that it's so critical to know that you have a team of friends and family around you. They're there to listen to you. They're there to help you. They're there to take care of you.
And if it's just simply running down to the store to buy the one thing you crave and the one thing you want to eat, then they do that. If it's helping you arrange the best care possible, they see to it that you get it, and they ask the hard questions. And if you're afraid, as a survivor, as a patient, or whatever we call that, to ask the hard question, that you have this team around you that says, "Hey, what's going on?"
KING: Dr. Derek Raghaven, director of the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, joins us right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. REEVE: There is nothing yet that anyone has ever said to Chris that he hasn't defied. When they say he can't do something, he makes it a point to actually go ahead and do it. And that's been across the board. He's someone who has defied predictions from the first day. So I'm thrilled; I'm so excited for him. And I think he's a great inspiration and motivator for so many people.
KING: We'll get back to the panel momentarily. Joining us from Cleveland is Dr. Derek Raghaven, the director of the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center.
How did she have lung cancer without smoking?
DR. DEREK RAGHAVEN, DIRECTOR, CLEVELAND CLINIC'S CANCER CENTER: Well, I think, unfortunately, Larry, I believe she was a passive smoker. You might remember that Dana Reeve was a singer early in her life. And my understanding is that she sang in places where cigarette smoking happened a lot.
One of the things that isn't very well-known is that, in many ways, passive smoking is much more dangerous than regular smoking, in the sense that, when you inhale a cigarette, it's hot, and uncomfortable, and makes you cough. When you're breathing in passive smoke, there isn't the same acute reaction. And so you, in fact, inhale more deeply.
So she was exposed to passive smoking, as happens in so many parts of the USA. We just haven't got legislation that's state-of- the-art to protect us.
KING: How curable is it when caught very early?
RAGHAVEN: Lung cancer is curable when caught early. If it's at a point where you can operate to remove it or use radiotherapy to contain it, there's a potential for as high as an 85 percent cure rate.
The more advanced it is, the lower the cure rate. And these days, with some of the newer treatments, we can improve the outcomes for people with more advanced disease.
But, you know, the reality of the situation is, if we prevented lung cancer in the first place by stopping people from smoking, by having the appropriate legislation, if we could get more money available for the National Cancer Institute for research and for prevention research, we'd be just a whole lot better off.
KING: Any new treatments on the horizon?
RAGHAVEN: There are new treatments here right now. You know, my frustration, as someone who directs a major program at the Cleveland Clinic, is that there are so many pieces of information that are just outside our reach.
We've had brilliant scientists who've worked out so many details of the human genome. And this was a result of money being put into cancer research and general medical research over the last couple of decades. Just at the point where we could capitalize on this, our Congress has voted to reduce the amount of money available, and so it's a very frustrating thing.
We have targeted therapies that are actually active against particular genes that are expressed that control cancer growth. We've got a bunch of new anti-cancer drugs, what are called biochemical modulators. They're agents that make those drugs work differently. And we're just so close. And just as we were really about to take off and go into high gear, our funding has been cut back.
KING: Do you think this, in a sense, might help focus more attention on it?
RAGHAVEN: Well, it's a heck of a way to focus attention, you know? I think it's -- I think one shouldn't lose sight of the tragedy of this situation and the loss for the Reeve family.
You know, indirectly, Chris Reeve and Dana Reeve served the community for the last 15-plus years. So if we can draw something beneficial -- the fact that Lance was able to focus on this issue. You know, he's devoted his life since being diagnosed to supporting cancer research, and getting out there, and helping philanthropic donation.
We need the government to step up to the plate and stop messing around and avoiding the issue.
KING: Well said.
RAGHAVEN: If they put more cigarette tax money into research, if state governments ponied up, if local city governments took a stand and actually made smoking illegal in public places, there are so many easy steps. And the government just isn't taking them.
KING: Thanks, Dr. Raghaven. Always good seeing you.
KING: Dr. Derek Raghaven, director of the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center. We'll be back with our remaining moments after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. REEVE (singing): His words and his words alone are the words that can start my heart singing. And his is the only music that makes me dance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We only have about a minute left. We're running quick on time.
Kathy Lewis, do we know what's going to happen to Will? Who will take care of him?
LEWIS: Will is in the loving arms of family and friends at the moment, and we are giving the family privacy, as they much deserve.
KING: Yes, but a lot of people are interested in him. He made such an impression.
LEWIS: I know, and he's an amazing kid. And he really has his parents' genes. And I'm sure he will be just fine. And Dana and him spent a lot of time together, and she made plans for him that he's well aware of.
You know, ironically Dana would not want to be remembered as somebody who had cancer. She'd want to be remembered as the person who touched millions of people's lives. She was a wonderful mother, a wonderful advocate, and a wonderful support and cheerleader for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.
It really is a shame that the funding will be cut. And we'll work vigorously in her honor to make sure that the funds are put back in the '07 budget.
KING: But if it's not, you have to raise it outside that, right?
LEWIS: Yes, we will. We'll absolutely raise it, and we'll do it in her honor.
KING: Thank you very much. And thanks to all of you, Lance Armstrong, Deborah Roberts, Dr. Maya Angelou, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Senator John Kerry, and our good doctor from the Cleveland Clinic. We thank you all on this, a special tribute to a wonderful lady, Dana Reeve, who appeared a few times on this show alone and with her late husband, as well.
In fact, stay tuned next for Dana and Christopher Reeve in their own words, a special hour of the best of their appearances on LARRY KING LIVE. That starts right now.
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