A Stage 4 pancreatic cancer survivor penned an open letter to beloved Canadian and Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek urging him to fight on because, as the letter reads, “You got this!”
Atlanta native Elise Tedeschi decided to write the letter in hopes of inspiring Trebek to fight on after he went public last week with the news that he has also been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“I was filled with fear, sadness and disbelief,” the mother of two wrote in the open letter. “I thought, ‘How is this even possible?’ I was married to the love of my life for 11 years; I had two amazing boys, Jake (then 8) and Ryan (then 6); and a job that I absolutely loved. But my life, as I knew it, changed forever in an instant.”
Tedeschi said she was diagnosed with the “surefire death sentence” in 2012 and was given about nine months to live.
“The decision to fight was an easy one because there was no way that I was leaving my little boys and no way that anyone else was going to marry my husband!” she wrote. “Like you, Mr. Trebek, I had an outpouring of love and support (on a much, much, much smaller scale). I was astounded by the kindness and sheer beauty from friends and even complete strangers.”
According to Michelle Capobianco, executive director at Pancreatic Cancer Canada, pancreatic cancer is predicted to become the deadliest cancer worldwide by 2030.
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“The five-year survival for Stage 4 is unfortunately less than one per cent,” said Capobianco. “For all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20 per cent, and the five-year rate is about seven to eight per cent.”
As for Tedeschi, she beat the odds.
“I ended up doing 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of stereo tactical radiation along with a 24-5 (24 hours a day, five days a week) chemo pump and then a cutting-edge surgery, called the IRE or NanoKnife,” she said. “I also did some more post-surgery chemo.”
When Trebek revealed his battle with cancer, the 78-year-old acknowledged the grim diagnosis but vowed to continue to work and fight the good fight.
“Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” he said. “Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this and I’m going to keep working.
“And with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease,” he said.
Tedeschi told Trebek in the letter she was able to stay positive because she got “to choose my attitude.”
“So I choose to be happy and live my life!”
Tedeschi noted she has been in full remission for six and half years.
“So Alex Trebek, go kick cancer’s butt — it has no chance against you!” she said. “You got this!”
I’ll take powerful words of encouragement for $500, Alex.
—With a file from Global News’ Meghan Collie
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