Nora Ephron's Illness
Writer and director Nora Ephron, who died Wednesday at age 71, suffered from myelodysplastic syndrome, a bone-marrow disorder for which there is no cure.
There were conflicting reports that said Ephron died of an aggressive form of leukemia. It’s not uncommon for myelodysplastic syndrome to progress to acute myelogenous leukemia . That change usually occurs within a few months to a few years of the original diagnosis of myelogysplastic syndrome. Other reports said the writer died because of pneumonia caused by her illness.
People who have undergone chemotherapy, smoked or been exposed to chemicals like lead and mercury are at higher risk of getting the type of leukemia Ephron had.
Ephron, a humorous essayist and the director of classic romantic comedies like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail, was diagnosed with the syndrome in 2006 but had kept her illness a secret.
Bone marrow is the soft material inside the bones ; it generates essential blood cells. The disease isn’t often caught in its early stages. Symptoms include fatigue, frequent infections, shortness of breath and tiny red spots beneath the skin.
Myelodysplastic syndrome is considered incurable, and treatments include efforts to prolong life, and possibly a bone-marrow transplant.
Celebrities Ephron had worked with, including Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, issued statements mourning their late director. Hanks said, “Rita [Hanks’ wife] and I are so very sad to lose our friend who brought so much joy to all who were lucky enough to know her."