BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Even though Alex Trebek was not directly connected to Western New York, his impact was felt beyond television sets.
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month. Few know that better than the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network of Western New York. The group watched Trebek's battle with pancreatic cancer closely.
“His passing will be really difficult for many of us,” said Lynne Jakubowski with PanCAN WNY. “He shared his journey in such a heartfelt way.”
Trebek helped raise awareness of the third deadliest type of cancer in this country. That lead people to donate. PanCAN WNY makes sure Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Institute receives their fair share. PanCAN works with congress to secure as much money as possible for research. A lot of that money comes to Western New York. PanCAN has two grant recipients at Roswell Park, combining over $1 million.
“Pancreatic cancers tend to give symptoms at a later stage. It tends to be more or less a silent killer,” said Christos Fountzilas, MD, FACP, a medical oncologist at Roswell Park.
While, the diagnosis can be dire, great strides have been made in treating the cancer.
“Half of the patients used to die within six to nine months. Nowadays, with more modern treatments, patients can live more than a year, more than a year and a half, added Fountzilas.
If you have pains in your stomach, skin is turning yellow or are inexplicably losing weight, these may be signs of the cancer. While it's tough to catch the cancer early, talk to your doctor about family's medical history.
“Everybody should you ask their PCPs whether they are at high risk of pancreatic cancer,” said Fountzilas.
Anyone who is diagnosed, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network says to reach out to them.
With the death of Trebek, it's yet another reminder of the work that needs to be done to fight pancreatic cancer.
“It forces us to really want to work even harder,” said Jakubowski.