Yesterday, many news sources were reporting that a close friend of the great actor Paul Newman had revealed that Newman was suffering from lung cancer.

Today, reports are spreading that Newman’s friend is denying that report.

Still… it’s easy to see why fans everywhere were stunned and dismayed by the questionable reports. Lung cancer is bad news wherever it appears.

Tim, a dear friend of mine who is several years younger than me, is struggling with it right now, and it seems so cruel and unfair. But he is soldiering on, with a fantastic sense of humor and devotion to his wife and family. The disease is so horrible, but Tim is an inspiration in his courage and spirit.

I hope that the reports about Newman were, in fact, false. It’s distressing to think that we may not see another great performance from this magnificent actor. While I love Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Cool Hand Luke, I prefer his grizzled, textured performance in Road to Perdition, his hilarious turn in The Hudsucker Proxy, and best of all, his beautifully subtle performance in Nobody’s Fool. Heck, even his voice work in Cars qualifies as a great performance.

A discussion of Newman’s wonderful work (onscreen and off) is beginning at ArtsandFaith.

If you say a prayer for Newman, I’d appreciate it if you also said a prayer for Tim and his family.