Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis, General Hospital) is currently in a cancer-related storyline. Her character is suffering from late stage lung cancer and recovery doesn't look good.
Grahn spoke today with KABC entertainment Health Reporter, Denise Dador, explaining that it's her character that has the cancer, and yet, the story has a very personal meaning for her.
"My father died of emphysema at 77 and ironically was an addictions counselor. You know, there's a lot that he could have done and had he not smoked, he would have had a lot of life left," Grahn tells Dador.
Grahn’s dad became a crusader against smoking. She believes that somehow she's now been enlisted to continue his work.
"I feel like he's sort of orchestrated something here for me," Grahn continued. Alexis is battling a lethal disease. "I don't wanna die, Jax, if that's what you think." Alexis comments in today's episode.
According to Dador, lung cancer kills more Americans than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined. The likelihood of non smokers getting lung cancer is very small, but it does happen. Non-smoking woman are more vulnerable than men as in the case of Dana Reeves. Second-hand smoke is most likely the culprit. As is widely known, those most at risk are those that smoke. Dr. Ariathurai, the medical director of the Glendale Memorial Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center in Glendale, CA told Dador that "not all smokers get cancer, but almost all lung cancer patients are smokers."
Is there anything we can do to help avoid this horrible disease? First up, if you smoke -- stop. It won't be easy, but it can be done.
"You can stop," encourages Grahn. "I used to smoke. My father smoked. You can stop and to say that you can't is just not true." Also, maintaining a healthy weight and aiming for 30 minutes of exercise several times a week couldn’t hurt. Grahn also cautions those that smoke to be aware of their surroundings and everyone else who may be breathing in their fumes.
When Grahn first found out about the storyline, she was naturally concerned that her days on General Hospital were numbered. Her character did not know she had the disease until she started dealing with a hacking cough. By the time people are coughing, the disease is already in the late stage.
Grahn believes that Alexis will survive, but many in real life do not. She hopes that through Alexis, this storyline will bring awareness about the disease and how to prevent it to the show's viewers.
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