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HANKS' EX-WIFE DYING OF CANCER; Star sent her to specialists.

Byline: JAMES SCOTT

HOLLYWOOD superstar Tom Hanks was devastated after discovering his ex-wife is dying of bone cancer.

Susan Dillingham, 48, who had two children by the star during their turbulent eight-year marriage, was told she was suffering from the terminal disease after a routine check-up.

Immediately he heard, Hanks arranged for his first wife to be seen by the world's top bone cancer specialists.

Yesterday, a friend said: "Tom was absolutely devastated by the news. He and Susan separated a long time ago. They've had their ups and downs like any divorced couple - but they have remained friends.

"They still talk to each other regularly because of the children."

Susan told Tom after doctors said the cancer had spread to her lungs and possibly her brain and all they could do was manage the pain.

Tom, 44, then insisted that she was jetted to Los Angeles to see world-renowned cancer experts at UCLA.The Cast Away star put his ex-wife up at a luxury hotel while she receives treatment at the hospital.

Susan is now being seen by bone specialist Dr Jeffrey Bekhardt and oncologist Dr Robert Figlin - both leaders in their fields.

"She knew before she came to LA that her condition was terminal," said a source.

"She told Tom but he still wanted to make sure that she received the best possible treatment."

Hanks - who is up for a Best Actor Oscar later this month for Cast Away - first met Susan during theatre classes at Cal State University in Sacramento. They married in 1979, shortly before the birth of their son Colin - now a TV actor. The couple also had a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1982.

But they split in 1984 after Hanks met and fell in love with current wife Rita Wilson.

After the break-up, Hanks said: "We tried to make our marriage work but we were just way, way too young."

In 1987, the couple filed for divorce and Susan sought a restraining order, claiming Tom had "verbally abused and humiliated" her.

But the bad feelings disappeared as Tom and his ex-wife worked together to bring up their family.

Susan raised their kids in Sacramento while Tom was in Southern California with his new wife Rita and their children Chester and Truman.

A friend of Susan said: "Tom has promised Susan that he will make sure the children are properly looked after if the worst happens."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 9, 2001
Words:400
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