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Love and Support for Alex Trebek

Alex Trebek, a national treasure and host of “Jeopardy!” game show for the past 35 years, recently publicly announced that he was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.

Words of encouragement and hope

“Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging,” Trebek said in his video post, “but I am going to fight this. I am going to keep working and with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease. Truth told, I have to. Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host “Jeopardy!” three more years. So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win.”1

Did you feel the love? I know I did. How can you help but love this guy?

Putting pancreatic cancer in the spotlight

When someone shares that they have been diagnosed with a very serious disease, the natural response — human heart to human heart — is warm compassion. It should be that way, shouldn’t it?

When Trebek released his announcement, suddenly, all the media outlets were scrambling to learn more about pancreatic cancer. Every local and national morning show brought in experts to discuss Trebek’s diagnosis.

After watching one of these shows, my shocked husband came to tell me about what he had just learned about pancreatic cancer’s mortality rate (as if I didn’t know). Don’t get me wrong. It is shocking. Pancreatic cancer has a lower five-year survival rate than lung cancer; although, lung cancer claims more than three times the number of people.

Pancreatic cancer and stigma

Pancreatic cancer has its own stigma, although it’s not nearly as prevalent as lung cancer’s. Some of the risk factors for pancreatic cancer are heavy alcohol use, obesity and, of course, tobacco use. Other risk factors are beyond a person’s control, such as age, family history, and genetics.

Perhaps the difference is that people accept the fact that anyone can get pancreatic cancer. That’s true. And as we all know, anyone can get lung cancer.

How is lung cancer and pancreatic cancer alike?

Lung cancer shares a lot with pancreatic cancer. A few years ago, the Recalcitrant Cancer Act was passed into law. That law directed the National Cancer Institute to develop a scientific framework for research addressing the nation’s top two recalcitrant cancers.

The law defined recalcitrant cancers as those cancers that killed more than 30,000 Americans a year and had a survival rate less than 20 percent. The NCI identified those top two recalcitrant cancers as lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. Actually, the NCI further developed a scientific framework, focusing on Small Cell Lung Cancer, which has had little improvement in treatment for decades. Pancreatic cancer advocates, working with lung cancer advocates, were successful in getting this law passed.

Rooting for Alex

Along with the rest of the world, I am rooting for you, Alex. I am praying for you, too.

I am also praying for the day that no matter what type of cancer a person has and no matter how popular or famous they are, everyone will feel that universal love and supportwithout judgment. I believe that day will come.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. A Message from Alex Trebek. Jeopardy! Accessed March 17 2019.