Did Linda McCartney Know She Was Dying?

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?

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:

“I’m not actually sure she ever knew she was dying… I talked it over with the doctor, and he said, ‘I don’t think she would want to know… I don’t think it would do her any good.”

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.


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,

“we’d learned that there were times when you needed traditional modern medical science, and we opted for that route.”

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.

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:

“She hardly ever lost her appetite, and you’re really supposed to lose your appetite on these things. But Linda was such a sort of lusty person, ‘Right, what are we having for dinner?’ She never went like an ill person.”

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:

“Any suggestion that her death was assisted is complete and utter rubbish, a total nonsense,”

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!

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.


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.

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