“Like Alex Trebek, I was given a dire pancreatic cancer prognosis. I survived.”
By Tonia Smith, March 8
| Washington Post – When my husband told me Alex Trebek was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, I felt as if he had told me one of our close friends was in mortal danger.
We often watched “Jeopardy!” after dinner when our daughters were young, and now my teenager revels in the opportunity to beat me.
His announcement devastated me, not only because I admire him but because it brought back all the feelings from my own diagnosis five years ago.
One November day in 2013, I locked myself in my bathroom and started to sob, hoping my husband and daughters would not hear me.
I was 44, recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in the midst of a grueling treatment regimen with an uncertain outcome.
On that day, however, I was facing something far more frightening: my own mortality. Not unlike many newly diagnosed cancer patients, I was scared.
I needed comfort from others who had been there. So I did what everybody does these days — I went online in search of survivors’ stories. I was momentarily buoyed when I found some — people full of life and hope — until I learned that all of them had since died.
That’s the thing about pancreatic cancer. It forces you to confront the real possibility of dying. And in my case, dying young.
While most women my age are wondering what to make for dinner, or whether they can juggle work and errands and still get their kids to sports practices, I was obsessing over whether I would see my daughters dressed up for their proms, or graduate from high school and leave for college.
I even found myself thinking I should start scouting around for second-wife candidates for my husband, Steve, so he wouldn’t be lonely after I was gone.
Pancreatic cancer is a very isolating disease with an abysmally low survival rate … Read more.