Dear Alex Trebek: I Survived Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, So I Am Proof That There Is Hope
On March 6, "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The following is an open letter to the television personality from a long-time survivor of the deadly disease.
On January 5, 2012, I received the most devastating news: I had cancer. I had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I had stage 4 inoperable pancreatic cancer — a surefire death sentence. I was reluctantly told that I had about nine months to live.
I was filled with fear, sadness and disbelief. I thought, “How is this even possible?” I was married to the love of my life for 11 years; I had two amazing boys, Jake (then 8) and Ryan (then 6); and a job that I absolutely loved. But my life, as I knew it, changed forever in an instant.
So on January 6, 2012, the decision to fight was an easy one, because there was no way that I was leaving my little boys and no way that anyone else was going to marry my husband!
I had no idea what would lie ahead. I had no idea that I would end up feeling that this was a gift in a strange package. I had no idea that this would be a journey of love, hope and faith.
Like you, Mr. Trebek, I had an outpouring of love and support (on a much, much, much smaller scale). I was astounded by the kindness and sheer beauty from friends and even complete strangers.
My family became my prayer warriors, my caregivers and my security. My husband held down the home front; he would even carry me upstairs when I was too weak.
My boys thought it was so funny, but I loved that they had this kind of role model — and I did think it was really romantic! My besties became my sons’ surrogate moms, taking them to swim practice and endless fun activities. The good far outweighed the bad.
I ended up doing 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of stereo tactical radiation along with a 24/5 (24 hours a day, five days a week) chemo pump and then a cutting-edge surgery, called the IRE or NanoKnife. I also did some more post-surgery chemo.
You may wonder how I stayed positive. My answer was always the same: “I didn’t choose to get cancer and I didn’t choose to go through this, but I do get to choose my attitude. So I choose to be happy and live my life!”
Guess what?! I beat the crap out of stage 4 pancreatic cancer and have been in in full remission for six and a half years.
So Alex Trebek, go kick cancer’s butt — it has no chance against you! You got this!
Elise Roth Tedeschi is a marketing, sales and public relations consultant, currently finishing up a project with City Winery. Tedeschi is currently writing a book about her incredible journey with cancer and will be looking for a literary agent. Tedeschi is also the Atlanta affiliate chair of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @eliseintheatl.