Christopher Reeve's widow has died of lung cancer. Dana Reeve passed away on Monday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Center after losing her battle with the deadly disease, which she was diagnosed with in August 2005.

The 44-year-old, who was a non smoker all her life, had been the head of the Christopher Reeve Foundation - which funds research on paralysis and was set-up after the 'Superman' actor died in 2004 - before her death.

Dana had cared for her husband for nine years after he was paralysed in a freak horse-riding accident in 1995. The Foundation's chief executive Kathy Lewis has admitted she was extremely shocked by her friend and colleague's death.

She said in a statement: "We are extremely saddened by the death of Dana Reeve, whose grace and courage under the most difficult of circumstances was a source of comfort and inspiration to all of us."

Dana was a singer when she met Reeve and after quickly falling in love they married in 1992 and had a baby son, Will, in the same year. She is survived by her son and two stepchildren, Matthew and Alexandra.

Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta Jones, an ardent supporter of the Foundation, paid tribute to Dana, saying: "She's better than Superwoman, she's Wonder Woman. Dana is like a saint to me."