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‘Cancer Is a Teacher’: Jane Fonda Reveals Her Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Diagnosis

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“So, my dear friends, I have something personal I want to share,” wrote Jane Fonda on Instagram today. “I’ve been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and have started chemo treatments.” True to form, the Oscar-winning actor and activist not only shared this news with grace and candor but used it as an opportunity to call attention to the U.S.’s broken healthcare system.

“I have health insurance and access to the best doctors and treatments,” she continued. “I realize, and it’s painful, that I am privileged in this. Almost every family in America has had to deal with cancer at one time or another, and far too many don’t have access to the quality health care I am receiving, and this is not right.”

According to the American Cancer Society, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that starts in cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system. It’s one of the most common cancers in the U.S., accounting for about 4% of all cancers. But as Fonda underlines in her post, it’s thankfully very treatable. She went on to explain that while she’ll be undergoing chemotherapy treatment for six months, she has no plans of paring back her efforts to help save the planet.


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“Believe me, I will not let any of this interfere with my climate activism,” said Fonda. Wasting no time, she also discussed how climate change, the burning of fossil fuels, in particular, leads to an increased risk of cancer. “We need to be talking much more; not just about cures, but about causes so we can eliminate them.”

Always focused on the big picture, Fonda is already embracing the lessons she can take from this experience, too. “Cancer is a teacher and I’m paying attention to the lessons it holds for me,” she explains. “One thing it’s shown me already is the importance of community. Of growing and deepening one’s community so that we are not alone. And the cancer, along with my age—almost 85—definitely teaches the importance of adapting to new realities. We’re living through the most consequential time in human history because what we do or don’t do right now will determine what kind of future there will be and I will not allow cancer to keep me from doing all I can.”

While fighting climate change is always top of mind for Fonda, she emphasizes the urgent need to build the political power of the environmental movement. Even in the face of battling cancer, she’ll be right there on the front lines. “The midterms are looming, and they are beyond consequential, so you can count on me to be right there, together with you, as we grow our army of climate champions.”

Originally published in

Read next: Jane Fonda Says She Stopped Getting Face-Lifts Because She Didn’t Want to Look ‘Distorted’

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