You can always tell when something’s up. It used to be the phone. Now it’s text messages and Facebook posts. Alex Trebek has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It is Stage 4. He has only found out within the last week.
Today pancreatic cancer is incurable.
Sometimes it can be cut out surgically, but only a limited number of patients catch their cancer early enough to qualify. That’s what happened with me. Mine was found while looking for something else.
If the cancer is detected at an early stage when surgical removal of the tumor is possible, the 5-year survival rate is 32%. About 10% of people are diagnosed at this stage. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or organs, the 5-year survival rate is 12%. For the 52% of people who are diagnosed after the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 3%. – cancer.net
At Stage 4, meaning the cancer has already spread beyond the pancreas, they won’t even try surgery. That’s not being cruel. If the cancer has spread the surgery has more danger than value.
In his video Alex says he’s going to fight — exactly what I said. I told my doctors right away I wanted aggressive treatment. In his case it will probably be a combination of chemo and radiation to try and slow the cancer down.
Most patients in his situation also avail themselves of clinical trials, drugs that are being tested but are not yet proven. It’s a crap shoot. Hardly anything thrown against pancreatic cancer has even made a dent. It’s seriously a ‘what do you have to lose’ situation.
For a while Alex will be able to work. Over time the cancer will grow and take the physical space now occupied by vital organs. That’s how it ends. Your liver or other organ is just crowded out of existence.
I remember visiting my friend Kevin in Cheshire the night he died of pancreatic cancer. His condition that night is seared in my memory.
At this point Alex Trebek is just starting to understand the new job that’s been assigned to him. He’s got the right attitude. I wish him good luck and good health.