As “Jeopardy!” host, Alex Trebek, nears his second Father’s Day since his 2019 pancreatic cancer diagnosis, his wife, Jean, captured his children’s thoughts on their famous dad. “Our little family was meant to be,” Jean writes on Insidewink. “The stars were all aligned to bring together such unique personalities which deeply support and respect each other.”Read More
“When we’re together I feel such joy,” Jean writes. “It really pleases me that Matthew, Emily and Nicky have become such great friends and close siblings. In honor of father’s day, I asked them some answer some questions about their Dad.”
Seeing Their Dad in Career Choices
Daughter Nicky works on “Jeopardy!” as a production coordinator. “I started working on the show the year it started, in 1984,” she explains in Jean Trebek’s post. “My life has taken me many different directions over the past 30 years, but being back at Jeopardy! for the past 5 has been an incredible blessing,” Nicky Trebek says. “”I believe I’m there to support and be a blessing to him.”
With the family gathered over dinner, Jean Trebek saw an opportunity to create a special Father’s Day gift for the beloved, Alex Trebek.
She feels grateful for the opportunity. “Especially now. “He’s really good at his profession. The best in the business,” Nicky says. “People don’t really understand what it takes to do what he does. He is meticulous and I feel very honored to have been able to watch him behind the scenes all of these years.”
Nicky also confides that, on a special trip to Hawaii, Trebek, “told me he was going to marry Jean and I could see how happy he was!”
Matt: “Brought Things Full Circle”
For son, Matt, entering the restaurant business was a natural. Trebek’s father was a chef in Canada, Jean reveals in her post, “so it’s no surprise that his son Matt owns three restaurants in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.”
“I think the opening of my restaurants sort of brought things full circle because his dad was a chef at a hotel in Canada,” Matt notes.
With his partners, Matt owns 3 restaurants: Oso, Lucille’s Coffee & Cocktails, Pizza By Lucille’s — named in honor of Trebek’s mother, Lucille.
Matt also adds that his father made time to support his passions. “I really loved it when my Dad would come to all of my paintball tournaments with me… although it was a very unique sport, he still got very enthusiastic about watching and learning the game.”
Emily: “He’s Extremely Handy”
Emily is an interior designer and house-flipper who has benefitted from Trebek’s talent as a handyman: “He also has always been into construction so I think that rubbed off on me too,” she says.
“Flipping a home has always been on my “bucket list”. When I bought the first house, I asked for my Dad’s help because he’s extremely handy and really knows a lot about construction. He worked at the jobsite every single day and taught me so much. It really meant a lot to me how much time he dedicated to the project.”
Trebek’s Cancer Diagnosis
Alex Trebek announced in March 2019 that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is a more difficult cancer to treat as it is often diagnosed late. Trebek was diagnosed at stage 4 and responded well to his initial chemotherapy treatment.
He announced in May that some of his tumors had shrunk a significant amount, and the results were “mind-boggling.” Unfortunately, by September, Trebek announced a reversal of those initial positive results.
Dr. Anirban Maitra, co-leader of the Pancreatic Cancer Moon Shoot at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, on the challenges of diagnosing pancreatic cancer early.
Then, on March 4th, Trebek returned with another update, announcing that he had beaten the odds and reached a rare Stage 4 pancreatic cancer milestone: Only about 18% of patients survive one year after diagnosis and, at the time, Trebek was still taping “Jeopardy!”
In the video announcement, he said, “I’d be lying if I said the journey had been an easy one.”
But his oncologist says he looked forward to celebrating his second anniversary of survival, for which there is a 7% chance. “Anything is possible,” Trebek noted, telling fans: “I’ll keep you posted.”
The Good News About Pancreatic Cancer
In response to Trebek’s announcement, The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (known as PanCAN) responded that the “Jeopardy!” host’s one-year anniversary is a significant milestone for someone with this diagnosis.
The organization announced new research that found pancreatic cancer patients who receive precision medicine — a treatment tailored to an individual patient and their tumor — live an average of one year longer than those who do not. This is the first study to demonstrate an overall survival benefit from precision medicine in pancreatic cancer patients. Other advances:
- In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new approval of the targeted therapy Lynparza® (olaparib) for the treatment of germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer patients – the first pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma)-specific approval in more than four years.
- And Congress created a dedicated $6 million pancreatic cancer research program through the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). This is the first time that pancreatic cancer has had a dedicated funding program at the DoD specifically for innovative, high-impact research to accelerate discoveries of new treatments and early detection strategies.
- In January, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer hit 10% – the first time ever this statistic has been reported in the double digits.
Know Your Tumor: Customize Treatment
Because every pancreatic cancer patient – and every tumor – is unique, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) recommends that all pancreatic cancer patients undergo testing of both their tumor tissue along with blood and saliva to identify individual treatment options for that patient.
The organization offers a free Know Your Tumor precision medicine service as well as free, personalized resources on the disease.
Pancreatic Cancer Risk Factors
We know that people who have already had two or more cases of pancreatic cancer in their family are at higher risk of the disease themselves.
“If somebody has two first degree relatives with pancreatic cancer,” says Dr. Anirbahn Maitra, co-leader of the Pancreatic Cancer Moon Shoot at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Their risk is already double digits higher than the average population. If they have three family members it’s almost 34 percent higher than the average risk population.”
The presence of cysts on a person’s pancreas also carries an increased risk, as there is a chance that the cyst could turn into pancreatic cancer. It should be stressed though, that most cysts do not progress to cancer, but they are worth keeping an eye on.
If you have a family history of pancreatic cancer, or a cyst on your pancreas, it might well be worth asking your doctor about a pancreatic cancer screening test. However, if neither of these conditions apply to you, then you run a much greater risk of a harmful false-positive result.