Alex Trebek was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2019. He quickly went public about his battle because pancreatic cancer is one of the world’s deadliest cancers and he was diagnosed at stage IV, which means it has spread to other parts of his body.
Now, in preparation for World Pancreatic Cancer Day, the longtime Jeopardy! host has released a public service announcement where he opens up about his treatment and what people can do to be as proactive as possible against this deadly disease.
“In nearly every country, pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer with a five-year survival rate in the single digits,” says Trebek in the PSA video. “Now in order to help patients fight and survive this disease, more attention and awareness are needed. That’s why I’ve joined forces with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, to help raise global awareness of the risks and symptoms of pancreatic cancer.”
According to the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition website, it brings together “more than 80 organizations from over 30 countries and six continents to raise awareness and inspire action.” Trebek goes on to say that people need to be aware of the possible symptoms of pancreatic cancer; it is often diagnosed in the later stages because in the earlier stages patients are asymptomatic.
“I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I had experienced prior to my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” Trebek continues. “Other common symptoms can include mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, new-onset diabetes and the yellowing of the skin or eyes.”
Trebek’s public service announcement comes on the heels of a CTV interview he gave earlier this month where he admitted that his cancer treatments are taking their toll on him.
“I talk to the [Jeopardy!] producers about this all the time now. I say, ‘Look, I’m slurring my words. My tongue doesn’t work as well as it used to.’ The chemo has caused sores inside my mouth. It makes it difficult for me to speak and enunciate properly,” Trebek told CTV, adding that when he can no longer function as the Jeopardy! host, it will be time to step down.
“When I feel that my skills have diminished to the point that I notice and am bothered by it — I notice now, but I am not as bothered by it because all the people around me are saying, ‘No, it’s OK.’ But there will come a point where they will no longer be able to say, ‘it’s OK,'” Trebek said.
Trebek is hardly the first celebrity to have pancreatic cancer. Steve Jobs, Alan Rickman, and Patrick Swayze are among those celebs we’ve lost to pancreatic cancer in recent years, and it is estimated that over 45,000 people in the United States will succumb to pancreatic cancer in 2019 alone.
At the end of the PSA, the game show host asks for everyone’s support in spreading the word about World Pancreatic Cancer Day, which is Nov. 21.
“Participate this November by wearing purple, spreading the word on social media and visiting worldpancreaticcancerday.org to learn more. Together we can get it done,” says Trebek.
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