A stage 4 pancreatic cancer survivor’s open letter to “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek has gone viral after the married mother of two urged the 78-year-old to “go kick cancer’s butt.” In the letter, which was published Friday on the Daily Meal, Elise Roth Tedeschi revealed that she was given just nine months to live after her 2012 diagnosis of stage 4 inoperable pancreatic cancer.
“I was filled with fear, sadness and disbelief,” Tedeshi, who was 42 when she was diagnosed, told Trebek 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.”
Symptoms of pancreatic cancer may begin as vague pain in the abdomen or back, weight loss, jaundice, loss of appetite, nausea, change in stool, pancreatitis or recent-onset diabetes, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. A stage 4 diagnosis typically means the cancer has metastasized or spread to another part of the body, and cannot be removed by surgery.
Tedeschi, who is now the Atlanta affiliate chair of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, said that she embarked on a journey of “love, hope and faith,” and endured 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 25 rounds of stereo tactical radiation, a chemotherapy pump and eventually surgery. She said the love and support from friends, family and strangers helped the family forge forward, and that the “good far outweighed the bad” for her sons.
“You may wonder how I stayed positive,” she wrote. “My answer was always the same: ‘I didn’t choose to get cancer and I didn’t choose to go through this, but I do get to choose my attitude. So I choose to be happy and live my life!’ Guess what?! I beat the crap out of stage 4 pancreatic cancer and have been in full remission for six and a half years.”
Tredeschi, who told 11 Alive News that she goes for scans every six months, closed her letter with a final motivational message to the long-time television host: “So Alex Trebek, go kick cancer’s butt — it has not chance against you! You got this!”
Tredeschi’s words echo Trebek’s own vow “to fight this.” In a YouTube video released last week, Trebek said that he had recently learned of his diagnosis and reassured fans that “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.”
Tredeschi told 11 Alive News that at the time of her own diagnosis, she had also chosen to write letters to friends and colleagues to control her own message.
“I told people when I got diagnosed, and it was like, ‘I would tell them over the phone and I would get a reaction that was super difficult … I would be talking to them and saying, ‘hey don’t cry,’” she said. “So I wrote a letter to my colleagues and friends and said, ‘here’s the deal. Don’t feel sorry for me. It is what it is. I hate it when people said they felt sorry for me.”