The recent announcement by Alex Trebek that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer, hit me harder than I thought it would. The wounds of losing my dad and sister-in-law to cancers last year are still very fresh and somehow this news scraped at the new skin.
I do not know Mr. Trebek personally, but I’ve known him for almost my entire life. Jeopardy has been on the air since 1984 with Alex Trebek as the host. He is part of our daily lives, part of pop culture, and the same age as my dad would have been last September. Growing up in a time where there was just one tv and only a few tv channels, us kids were left to watch what our parents were watching. In our house it was the local evening news, network news, and then the not so boring, Jeopardy.
My dad was an intellectual and gained a love for learning from our grandfather (a first generation Italian American). I am unapologetically a Daddy’s girl. Part of the reason why is because he always seemed to know about EVERYTHING! As a young girl I thought my dad was a genius. He knew how to do so many cool things, he taught my brothers and me about wildlife, astronomy, biology, history and so much more (with our Mom’s help-she will soon get her own post too).
As we would sit down at the dinner table the TV would be on in the background and likely Jeopardy would be on. My Dad would seemingly know all the answers, rather the questions. He would call out, sometimes with his mouth full of food and we would all be in awe when he answered correctly to an obscure fact as my mother was telling him “don’t talk with your mouth full Larry.” Alex Trebek‘s cool even toned voice would answer with a quick “Right” or “well done.” His voice was part of my childhood and forever linked to memories of my father.
Cancer is quickly becoming the leading cause of death in our country. Most everyone has been personally affected. So why should this bother me so much to write about it? Because maybe I’m not the only one that feels this way about a stranger that has been a constant in our lives. This link to my father has freshened the edges of a shallow bed of granulation tissue of my wounds. We will likely see a physical decline in Mr. Trebek on air and in media that will remind me of the quickness and relentless of cancer’s wrath on my father and sister-in-law. Making the healing a little more painful but necessary for closure of these wounds.
I pray for strength for Mr. Trebek and his family. This journey of fighting a terminal cancer will test every part of their being. The hardest part of watching my dad’s battle with renal cell carcinoma was seeing this big, larger than life person whither into a weak old man. As a medical professional not being able to do anything much but watch and wait for the inevitable end was almost torture. The end was even harder, but maybe that’s another post.
I will keep watching Jeopardy until Mr. Trebek leaves as host. As a tribute to my dad and to support Alex Trebek’s fight against this terrible disease. Maybe, I will get a few more Final Jeopardy questions right. (I still think my dad is a genius, btw).
Help others in their fight against the cancers that took my dad and sister-in-law