Remembering Linda McCartney, Wife of Beatle Paul, Who Passed from Breast Cancer Nearly 25 Years Ago; Significant Advancements in Treatment Exist Today

McCartney had four children with Paul, she was an animal rights activist, author, and more. She and Paul also founded a vegetarian food company together.

Through her children, her partner, her art, and her work, her memory and legacy continue to live on today.

Linda mccartney breast cancer
Linda and Paul McCarthy

Breast Cancer Treatment Advancements

Breast cancer treatments have made incredible advances since Linda battled breast cancer. Today, the average 5-year survival rate for people with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 90%.

90% of women who get breast cancer now live. “Despite the huge trauma of the disease, it’s an amazingly hopeful and exciting field,” SurvivorNet Medical Advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Comen, said in an earlier interview. These days it’s not just about the stage of your breast cancer. Hormones, biology, and genetics should all play a role in determining your treatment.

Linda mccartney breast cancer
Paul, Linda and Stella McCartney in United Kingdom in the mid-70’s. (Francois LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

When your doctor is determining the treatment for your particular cancer there are many considerations that factor into the decision. For example: what is the size of the tumor, and are lymph nodes or other parts of the body involved? The biology of your tumor is also important: is your tumor positive for the HER2 receptor or hormone receptors? Did you inherit an increased risk for breast cancer and/or did your lifestyle increase your risk?

There are so many different ways to treat and target breast cancer today. Oncologists have many routes to go and many options no matter what stage the diagnosis.

Since 1998, when Linda passed, the way doctors view breast cancer has evolved. It’s now thought of as not just one, but as many diseases. Women are evaluated for genetics, hormones, and also molecular features. Genetic makeup, such as possessing the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation, is an influencing factor for people with breast cancer, or those with a higher risk factor of the disease.

Genetic Testing For Breast Cancer

Genetic & Molecular Features of Breast Cancer

Approximately 5-10% of breast cancer incidences are believed to be hereditary and caused by abnormal genes being carried on from parent to child.

Genes — including those that cause cancer — are segments of DNA found in chromosomes. Changes to DNA that negatively impact health are known as mutations; they can lead to faulty cell function or faulty cell growth.

Breast cancer-specific genetic mutations — known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations — can cause an increased risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The majority of inherited breast cancer cases are associated with these genetic mutations.

BRCA is actually two genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2); each protein works as tumor suppressor. They help repair damaged DNA, and are important for ensuring the stability of each cell’s genetic material.

When either of these genes is altered, that mutation can mean that its protein product does not function properly, or that damaged DNA may not be repaired correctly. These inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers, and have also been associated with increased risks for several other cancers.

For the molecular makeup of breast cancer, there are different types. These include:

  • Luminal A breast cancer
  • Luminal B breast cancer
  • Luminal B-like breast cancer
  • HER2-enriched breast cancer
  • Triple-negative or basal-like breast cancer

Each type has a specific, individualized molecular structure. The different types of the molecular structure of the breast cancer may inform the treatment path.

Linda’s Breast Cancer Journey

Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, and by the time she was diagnosed, the disease had already metastasized — or spread — to other areas of her body.

She had treatment after first getting diagnosed, and it appeared to have gone well, according to a family spokesperson at the time of her death via Variety. “But unfortunately, in March, it was found that it had gone to her liver,” said the spokesperson.

Two days before she passed, Linda was riding horses with Paul. “The blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn’t suffer,” the spokesperson shared. Husband Paul asked that in lieu of flowers, fans and loved ones honor Linda with a donation to cancer research or animal welfare charities — or simply “go veggie.” (Linda was a noted vegetarian and vocal supporter of animal rights.)

What are the Options When Breast Cancer Spreads? 

Learn more about SurvivorNet’s rigorous medical review process.


— Update: 04-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Did Linda McCartney Know She Was Dying? from the website musicnerdshq.com for the keyword linda mccartney breast cancer.

When Linda McCartney suddenly died in 1998 at the relatively young age of 56, everyone was shocked. We all knew she was battling breast cancer, but we didn’t expect her to die. So, did Linda McCartney know she was dying?

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Linda McCartney did not know she was dying. While she was well aware of her cancer, her husband Paul McCartney, and her doctor decided she was better off not knowing the condition was terminal.

Paul, at one point shortly after her death, wrote:

Back in 1967, the couple met at a Georgie Fame concert. Then in 1969 Linda Eastman married Paul McCartney, fans worldwide were devastated that the cute Beatle was officially off the market. Some even blamed her as being a root cause for the breakup of the fab four.

True fans of Paul McCartney, however, were in for a treat. Linda was his muse and inspiration for every love song (and there were a few) he wrote after they got together.

And thanks to her influence and support, Paul was able to pull himself together after the Beatles broke up. With Linda by his side, he was able to continue creating music and launch out on his wildly successful solo career.

It’s been over 20 years since Linda McCartney passed away, but her untimely death made a lasting impression on fans who were left with many questions.

How did a woman who was so completely dedicated to a healthy lifestyle get cancer, to begin with?

Considering her naturalist leanings, did she refuse chemotherapy or other common treatments like a mastectomy? And how did her loving husband of nearly 30 years handle the loss? It’s a love story for the ages, so let’s dive in.

Why did Linda McCartney get cancer?

The exact cause of Linda McCartney’s cancer is unclear, but her vegetarian diet may have been to blame.

There are studies that link the excessive intake of both dairy products and soy products (as were commonly used in vegetarian foods in the 70s, 80s, and 90s) to an increased risk of cancer.

(source)

It’s true that people get cancer all the time with no logical explanation, but come on… I was curious to find out why Linda McCartney got cancer. There had to have been a reason.

But the reality of it is that unfortunately, 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in their life. (source)

As we all know, lifestyle choices and exposure to certain materials (like asbestos) can increase our risk of cancer or directly cause it through long-term exposure.

The curious thing is that Linda McCartney lived a famously clean lifestyle.

She was a vegetarian before it was cool and promoted healthy eating habits through the three different vegetarian cookbooks she published. She loved the outdoors and was physically active.

She even had multiple children, which is known to lower the risk of breast cancer.

But certainly, psychedelic drugs, pot, and cocaine were widely used by the McCartney’s too in the 70s, although it’s unclear what effect, if any, that has on cancer.

On the other hand, maybe she was just genetically predisposed to it.

In the end, it really is impossible to say. But the fact that such a famous person with abundant financial resources succumbed to breast cancer proves that no amount of money in the world can save you if it is your time to go.

Paul and Linda McCartney had resources beyond most people’s wildest dreams. As such, they could afford Linda the best medical care.

I once looked into whether the members of the Beatles still receive royalties (which you can read by clicking here), and I learned all about Sir Paul’s finances. These guys could easily afford the best of everything, including healthcare.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

When was Linda McCartney diagnosed with cancer?

Linda McCartney’s breast cancer was discovered in December 1995 after a bout of feeling unwell. She lived for another 2 years and 4 months. 

Danny Fields, a lifelong friend of hers, wrote a biography of Linda and shared the following story about when Linda McCartney was diagnosed with cancer.

He wrote: “In December 1995, Linda called me to tell me that a malignant tumor had been found…” 

Apparently, she had gone to the doctor’s and was initially treated for “some kind of cold.” Two weeks later, still feeling unwell, they took a trip to London for some additional testing and confirmed the cancer diagnosis.

They immediately cut out the lump. According to Mr. Field’s recollection, she hadn’t even had a mammogram.

Did Linda McCartney do chemo?

Linda McCartney did do chemotherapy to try and fight the cancer in her body. While it is well known that Linda McCartney was all about natural medicines, when it came to battling her diagnosis, she felt that Western medicine gave her the best chance.

In an interview with Chrissie Hynde that was published in USA Weekend, Paul McCartney states,

Despite an initially optimistic prognosis and treatment, it was discovered that cancer had metastasized to her liver. In that same interview, Sir Paul referred to his wife as having gone through various rounds of treatments and suffering the side effects of chemotherapy.

Read more  Metastatic Breast Cancer to the Stomach Resembling Early Gastric Cancer

Referring to her hair loss, he stated, “eventually, when she realized that even her little crew cut was going to go, she shaved it all off. She looked like a Buddhist monk, very sort of holy.”

When talking about her appetite, Paul stated:

Did Linda McCartney have a mastectomy?

It is unknown if Linda McCartney underwent a mastectomy. About 35% of breast cancer patients undergo a mastectomy, but her family kept her condition and treatments relatively quiet.

While it is common for celebrities to publicize their health procedures to raise awareness, the McCartney family has been notoriously tight-lipped about Linda’s cancer treatment and procedures.

Interestingly enough, her daughter Stella McCartney, who is famous in her own right as a renowned fashion designer, has designed a line of bras for women who have undergone the procedure.

What did Paul McCartney say when Linda died?

Paul McCartney shared that as his wife passed, his last words to her were, “You’re up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion; it’s a fine spring day, we’re riding through the woods. The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear blue.”

Linda was indeed a big fan of horseback riding.

When Linda McCartney passed away, it was not exactly unexpected but still took the family by surprise. They had been genuinely optimistic about her progress right up till the end.

When she passed, it instantly became headline news around the world. One of pop history’s greatest love stories had come to a tragic end.

That was in private.

Publicly, the McCartney family made a formal press release that stuck to the basic details. To protect their privacy and throw the reporters off the path, they fibbed a bit and announced her place of death as Santa Barbara, California.

Unfortunately, the truth came out that she had passed at their Tucson, Arizona ranch, which was immediately descended upon by the press.

Paul McCartney requested that the public abstain from sending flowers and instead suggested that people donate to cancer research or animal welfare charity or become vegetarian in her honor.

Was there a mystery with Linda Mccartney’s death certificate?

In short, yes. There was an investigation conducted by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department shortly after her death.

That was because Paul originally claimed she was in Santa Barbara, California at the time of her death.

The investigation by Santa Barbara County Authorities was prompted after it was announced that she had died and was cremated but Santa Barbara county had not issued a death certificate or authorized a cremation.

And technically both of those things would be needed legally following someone’s death.

There were also rumors at the time that perhaps she hadn’t just succumbed to the cancer but that her death was, in fact, an assisted suicide.

However, the former Beatle and other family members flat-out denied those allegations, and nothing was ever proven. McCartney himself said:

So really, it’s not a mystery.

Linda McCartney’s death was simply a tragedy. And her death was indeed from, natural causes. Her husband was just lucky enough to be able to proceed with honoring her the way he saw fit and his celebrity ultimately caused the investigation into his late wife to blow over quickly.

So did Linda McCartney die in Santa Barbara, CA, or Pima County, AZ?

As I’ve mentioned above, different reports claim two different places for Linda McCartney’s death.

Paul initially claimed that Linda died in Santa Barbara, CA noting that they had been on vacation there. But the couple also owned a ranch in Pima County, AZ shortly outside of Tucson.

Linda even attended the University of Arizona there.

So while we don’t know for certain as the family didn’t disclose it, chances are Linda’s death occurred at their family ranch in Arizona. And that was in fact, where Linda’s ashes were scattered.

The story about Santa Barbara was simply concocted to keep fans and the press away from the ranch so that they could have a private place to mourn and celebrate Mrs. McCartney.

Linda had lived in Arizona before she met her future husband Paul as her previous marriage was to Joseph Melville See Jr. who was living in Tucson at the time they met. Linda had a daughter Heather from that first marriage (later adopted by Paul).

Where was Linda McCartney’s memorial service?

Linda’s ashes were scattered both at their family ranch in Arizona with immediate family members only, but also in the pastures and wooded areas at the McCartney family farm in southern England.

But Paul held 2 different memorial services; one in England and one in New York (where Linda was born). The memorial service in England was especially noteworthy as it was the first time that Paul and the remaining Beatles Ringo Starr and George Harrison had appeared together in public in 3 decades!

Read more  Breast Cancer With Brain Metastases: Perspective From a Long-Term Survivor

While the memorial in the UK was filled with some notable celebrities such as Elton John and Pete Townshend, The Rolling Stones were conspicuously absent.

But what about Yoko?

Was she invited to the New York City memorial service? If yes, how is her relationship with Paul? if not, why? Check out this recent article to get ALL the answers and then some!

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Conclusion

Linda McCartney may have never officially known she was dying with incurable cancer, though I am sure she was well aware of the gravity of her condition.

One must keep hope alive while fighting cancer, yet the constant setbacks and complications were probably clue enough as to what awaited her.

With the support and dedication of her loving husband and dedicated children, Linda McCartney made a noble effort to overcome the cancer that eventually took her life.

Linda may be gone, but her legacy lives on through her and her husband’s love of animals and the various animal welfare charities they supported.


Photo which requires attribution:

Linda McCartney Memorial Gardens by Cams is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped and had a text overlay added.


— Update: 05-01-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article ‘Have a Great Day’ Says Paul McCartney on Late Wife Linda’s 80th Birthday; Coping When a Spouse Has Cancer from the website www.survivornet.com for the keyword linda mccartney breast cancer.

Breast cancer treatments have made incredible advances since Linda battled breast cancer. Today, the average 5-year survival rate for people with non-metastatic invasive breast cancer is 90%.

The New York-born photographer, Linda, had four children with partner Paul before passing from the disease at age 56. In a loving tribute on Instagram, Paul writes, “Have a great day on what would have been @LindaMcCartney’s 80th birthday – Paul”

Linda’s Breast Cancer Battle

Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, and by the time she was diagnosed, the diseas had already spread to other areas of her body. She had treatment after first getting diagnosed and it had appeared to have gone well, according to a family spokesperson at the time of her death via Variety. ”But unfortunately in March, it was found that it had gone to her liver.”

Related: When Should I Get a Mammogram?

Two days before her death, Linda was riding horses with Paul. “The blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn’t suffer,” the spokesperson said. Husband Paul asked that in lieu of flowers, people honor Linda with a donation to cancer research or animal welfare charities — or simply “go veggie.” (Linda was a noted vegetarian.)

Related: What is a BRCA Mutation?

Since 1998 when she passed, the way doctors view breast cancer has evolved. It’s now thought of as not just one, but as many diseases. Women are evaluated for genetics, hormones, and also molecular features. Genetic makeup, such as possessing the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation, is an influencing factor for people with breast cancer, or those with a higher risk factor of the disease.

Handling Fear When You Get the Diagnosis

Breast Cancer Advances

90% of women who get breast cancer now live. Despite the huge trauma of the disease, it’s an amazingly hopeful and exciting field, says SurvivorNet Medical Advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Comen. These days it’s not just about the stage of of your breast cancer. Hormones, biology, and genetics should all play a role in determining your treatment.

When your doctor is determining the treatment for your particular cancer there are many considerations that factor into the decision. For example: what is the size of the tumor, and are lymph nodes or other parts of the body involved? The biology of your tumor is also important: is your tumor positive for the HER2 receptor or hormone receptors? Did you inherit an increased risk for breast cancer and/or did your lifestyle increase your risk?

There are so many different ways to treat and target breast cancer today. Oncologists have many routes to go and many options no matter what stage the diagnosis.

When a Spouse Has Cancer

When a spouse gets cancer, it can be the litmus test for the strength of the relationship – revealing cracks, or strengthening existing bonds. This is how actress Jill Kargman feels about cancer.

In a previous interview, she says, “I think cancer is a great way to find out if you’re with the love of your life or a shithead. I think it presses the fast forward button on getting to the bottom of that answer, because a lot of people in middle age are kind of at a crossroads, waiting for their kids to fly the coop.”

“And I think if you’re with someone who is not supportive and kind of emotionally checked out or doesn’t tell you you’re still beautiful with that, this might not be your person,” says Kargman.

Jill Kargman on Relationships and Cancer

Learn more about SurvivorNet’s rigorous medical review process.

References

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About the Author: Tung Chi