Why some, like Norm Macdonald, keep their cancer diagnosis private

Health

DENVER (KDVR) — Reaction continues to pour in from around the world after word came down that comedian Norm Macdonald passed away from cancer.

Most fans were unaware that the 61-year-old had been diagnosed because he kept the illness private. The sudden announcement took fans by surprise, similar to the deaths of actor Chadwick Boseman from colon cancer in 2020 and musician David Bowie from liver cancer in 2016.

Over at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver, the Rev. Michael Guthrie is one of the first people, patients seek out after they hear the sad news.

As a hospital chaplain, Guthrie said a cancer diagnosis can upend a person’s perspectives.

“Cancer changes what’s important to you in life, and what’s not important to you in life,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie said those diagnosed can be selective of whom they tell, “primarily because they don’t want to bring attention to themselves.”

Guthrie said he could think of a cancer patient who kept the news from just about everyone, “even individuals in their own family.”

Macdonald was a former “Saturday Night Live” writer and performer who was “Weekend Update” host when Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson provided comic fodder during the 1990s.

He was scheduled to play Comedy Works South at the Landmark in Greenwood Village in early 2022.

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