Jacqueline Kennedy is arguably the most famous First Lady of the United States, known for her grace, style, love of the arts, and for the restoration of the White House—but did you know she suffered from lymphoma?
While she was only first lady for two years (between 1961 and her husband’s assassination in 1963), the world continued to be fascinated by Jackie Kennedy. Even 23 years after her death, she is still one of the most talked-about women on earth and regarded as one of the greatest style and fashion icons ever.
Born on July 28, 1929, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was the daughter of a New York stockbroker and a socialite. She first met John F. Kennedy at a dinner party in 1952 when he was a congressman. The couple married shortly after in September 1953.
In 1968, Jackie married the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and took her husband’s name. She spent much of the time out of the country in a bid to regain some of her and her children’s privacy. Following her second husband’s death in 1975, she returned to the States and split her time between her New York apartment and properties in New England.
In 1993, following a horse riding accident, Onassis’s physician noticed a swollen lymph node in her groin. After complaining of stomach pains and swollen lymph nodes in her neck, tests confirmed that Onassis had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She began chemotherapy treatment in January 1994.
According to the New York Times, the disease had spread to her brain and spinal cord by mid-March. In early May, she found out that the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma had seriously infected her liver. Onassis had made a living will which stated that she did not wish to be treated aggressively for a serious disease if the treatment was unlikely to work. In keeping with the will, she made the decision to leave the hospital and discontinue any further treatment. Onassis died at home in her sleep on May 19, 1994, at the age of 63.
The 2016 film Jackie starring Natalie Portman has been nominated for three Academy Awards, and portrays Jackie in the days following her husband John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
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