Al Roker's Health Scare
- Beloved weatherman Al Roker, 68, was recently hospitalized after a blood clot in his leg and lungs. He went home on Thanksgiving and was luckily well enough to be with his family for the holiday.
- His daughter Leila and wife Deborah shared a heartfelt exchange on Leila’s birthday amid Roker’s health troubles.
- Roker announced he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2020. Since undergoing treatment, he’s been given consistent ‘all-clears,’ but he’ll be doing lifelong testing to make sure the cancer does not return.
- Roker also had gastric bypass surgery in 2002. Since that surgery and his continued efforts to live a healthy life, he’s lost over 100 pounds.
Roker’s wife Deborah Roberts shared a photo of Leila on Instagram, writing: “Thursday thankfulness. On this day, 24 years ago, I learned what it is to have your heart expand and dance to a new tune of joy. Leila entered the world and opened up a whole new world for us.”Read More
Roker went home from the hospital just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. He shared a picture on Twitter of him watching his TODAY show hosts as they hosted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Roker is no stranger to hospitals and health struggles. After almost delaying a doctor’s appointment because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Roker was diagnosed with an aggressive type of prostate cancer. He shared the news of his diagnosis on the TODAY show in March 2020 and explained that he would be having surgery.
So much to be #thankful for on the #thanksgiving day. Leaving the hospital and home for #thanksgivingdinner pic.twitter.com/Gu4Wpy6zLR
— Al Roker (@alroker) November 24, 2022
Al Roker’s Prostate Cancer Battle
“My first reaction was, ‘I just want this out. I don’t want to do radiation,’” Roker previously told SurvivorNet of the prostate cancer that was growing inside his body. “At the end of the day, I thought, ‘surgery first,’ then I thought, ‘no, maybe radiation,’ then I went back and (said), ‘no, surgery.’ That was that. Once I make a decision, I don’t really second guess it.”
His procedure took place in November 2020 and resulted in the removal of his prostate and some surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. This type of surgery — a radical prostatectomy — is known to effect a man’s sexual function since it requires removing the seminal vesicles.
“There really was no pain,” Roker said on how he felt post-operation. “The biggest issue, obviously, is sexual function, and there’s treatment for that. I’m happy to say everything’s working fine.”
The biggest issue for Roker actually came during surgical recovery.
RELATED: ‘I Just Want This Out’: TODAY Anchor & Prostate Cancer Survivor Al Roker, 67, Tells SurvivorNet About His Decision to Have Surgery
“To be honest, the hardest part really — there’s a little incontinence (loss of bladder control) to begin with that eventually goes away to me,” he said. “The hardest part was that initial week after surgery where you’re wearing a catheter (a soft tube that drains urine from the bladder). But even that was not onerous, it’s just a little inconvenient, but you know that it’s temporary.”
Since then, Roker has been given consistent “all-clears,” though he’ll be doing lifelong testing to make sure the cancer does not return.
The cancer surgery comes 19 years after Roker, who had long struggled with his weight, opted to have gastric bypass surgery to drastically limit his food consumption. He lost 100 pounds.
Understanding Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men — except for skin cancers. About one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. The disease begins in the walnut-shaped prostate gland located between the rectum and bladder. This gland produces the fluid that nourishes sperm.
RELATED: Prostate Cancer: Overview
Symptoms of the disease are inconsistent and hard to pinpoint.
“Prostate cancer is a very odd disease in that it doesn’t have a particular symptom,” Dr. Edwin Posadas, director of translational oncology and the medical director of the Urologic Oncology Program at Cedars-Sinai, explained.
But changes in urinary function like urinating more or less often or waking up at night to go more than usual could be a sign of the disease. However, it’s important to note that these potential symptoms could also could be caused by a urinary tract infection or even an enlargement of the prostate gland (which is not cancer).
There’s No One Definitive Symptom for Prostate Cancer, But There Are Clues
Doctors that have spoken with SurvivorNet shared a hopeful outlook when considering a prostate cancer diagnosis because there are many treatment options, and there’s been significant treatment progress over the past decade. Surgical and radiation options, for example, have made improvements in reducing side effects of treatment while still providing excellent cure rates. Even for men with an advanced-stage diagnosis, many new options exist to treat prostate cancer and help them maintain an excellent quality of life.
Prostate Cancer Screening
In the United States, many prostate cancer cases are caught with screening examinations. Screening guidelines depend on your risk for the disease. Age, race/ethnicity, geography, family history and gene changes are the main risk factors for prostate cancer. You should talk with your doctor regardless, but here are some things to consider when gauging your risk for the disease:
- Men younger than 40 are less likely to get prostate cancer, but age-related risk quickly rises after age 50. Approximately six of ten cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.
- Prostate cancer develops more often in African-American men and in Caribbean men of African ancestry than in men of other races, and these men tend to develop the disease at a younger age.
- Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia and on Caribbean islands. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America and South America. The reasons for this risk factor are unclear, but more intensive screening and lifestyle differences like diet might be contributing factors.
- Most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history of the disease, but it’s still important to look at your family history because prostate cancer does seem to run in some families. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer, for instance, more than doubles a man’s risk of developing the disease with a higher risk for men with a brother with prostate cancer than those with a father who have it. The risk is also especially high if a man has several affected relatives that developed the cancer at a younger age.
- Inherited gene changes, or mutations, like that of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes can also elevate risk, but this probably accounts for a small percentage of overall cases.
Family is Crucial
There’s nothing more important than family, especially during a battle with cancer. Your loved ones can be a crucial source of emotional support and companionship in helping you navigate a difficult battle with cancer. Like many survivors, Roker had great support through his cancer journey.
Faith also helps many survivors stay positive in the face of daunting medical challenges and inspires them to fight on.
Beverly Reeves, an ovarian cancer survivor, told SurvivorNet that her family, along with support from friends and faith groups, helped her get through treatment. She tells people going through difficult cancer battles to stay connected to faith groups and the critical support they offer.
“If you’re connected to a faith community, get your faith community, and get your family,” she told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “Let them know what’s going on and let them help you.”
‘Faith, Family, and Friends’ Helped Beverly Reeves Get Through Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Having a positive outlook and support system like Reeves benefits more than just the heart — it can actually help patients live longer. Dr. Murrell told SurvivorNet in a previous interview that he’s “pretty good at telling what kind of patients are going to live the longest, even with bad, bad disease. And those are patients who have gratitude in life.”
SurvivorNet has interviewed hundreds of survivors who’ve shared similar stories of how family has helped them persevere through their battles with cancer.
Whether it comes from faith, family, community, or another source, strength and positivity are key to overcoming cancer. SurvivorNet‘s medical experts urge those fighting cancer to talk to their doctors and loved ones to develop a support system for their battle.
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Contributor: Abigail Seaberg
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