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Facing Cancer, Michael Landon Talks About Life and Death

May 18, 1991

MALIBU, Calif. (AP) _ Facing inoperable cancer, Michael Landon plans to ″fight like hell″ to stay alive but isn’t afraid to die, the actor said in a magazine interview to be published Monday.

The 54-year-old star of ″Bonanza,″ ″Little House on the Prairie″ and ″Highway to Heaven″ was diagnosed in April with cancer of the pancreas and liver.

Since then, Landon has been spending his time on the Malibu ranch where he lives with his third wife, Cindy, 34. The father of nine has been undergoing an experimental therapy that pits drug-dispensing bubbles of fat against the tumor in his pancreas.

Only 3 percent of pancreatic cancer patients and 5 percent of liver cancer patients survive more than five years after diagnosis, according to the American Cancer Society’s ″Cancer Facts & Figures - 1991.″

The actor talked about cancer, his troubled childhood and his hopes for the future in the June edition of Life magazine. Here are some excerpts:

On being diagnosed with inoperable cancer:

″I’m not the kind of person who gives up without a fight. If I’m gonna die, death’s gonna have to do a lot of fighting to get me.

″I want to see my kids grow up. I want to play baseball with Sean (his 4- year-old son). I want to know if Jennifer (his 7-year-old daughter) turns out to be as good an actress as I think she will be. I want to watch Chris, my 16-year-old, become a man. I love my wife, Cindy, very much and I don’t want to leave her.″

On his personal treatment regimen, which concentrates on diet and vitamins rather than traditional chemotherapy:

″Damn carrots are turning me orange. And every time I eat or drink, I swallow digestive enzymes to replace what the pancreas has stopped producing. And then, once a day, I take a tried-and-true remedy for intestinal irritation - a coffee enema. Yup, I get filled to the rim. Organic coffee, I might add.

″And you know what? The same day I started this new program, the cramps stopped. And they’ve never come back. ... No pain 3/8 I feel great. Crazy, isn’t it? I may be dying and I feel great.

On his childhood in New Jersey and his mother:

″She did crazy things all the time. Like, she kept making dramatic attempts to commit suicide. I’m this little boy and I’d walk into the kitchen and find her with her head in the oven and the gas turned on.

″Life outside the family wasn’t much better. We were one of two Jewish families in a working-class town that had its share of anti-Semites. ... People in passing cars used to shout ‘Jew bastard 3/8 Jew bastard 3/8’

On his hopes for the future:

″I believe in God, I believe in family, I believe in truth between people, I believe in the power of love. I believe that we really are created in God’s image, that there is God in all of us. So I deal with the God I really know, and that’s you. When I need to ask forgiveness, I don’t ask a God in the sky. That’s too easy. I ask you.

″So I don’t see why I should fear death - and I don’t. I don’t want to die, and I’m going to fight like hell not to, but I’m not afraid to die.″

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