Alex Trebek Gets Open Letter Filled with Hope from Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Survivor

March 12, 2019 Updated: March 15, 2019

“I felt that, no matter what, I was gonna beat it,” was Elise Roth Tedeschi’s defiant response when doctors told her she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer back in 2012. She had ignored two warning signs, back and stomach pains, for some time before learning the sinister root cause of her discomfort. But Tedeschi, a wife and mom, told Inside Edition that she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer: “I didn’t care what the doctors said.”

Photo courtesy of Elise Roth Tedeschi

Tedeschi, a marketing, sales and public relations consultant from Smyrna in Georgia, was given roughly nine months to live.

Brimming with resolve from the moment she received her diagnosis, Tedeschi devised a mantra to focus her energy and keep her spirits buoyant: “Faith, family, friends and fun.” This mantra, along with a targeted genetic treatment that isn’t available to all patients, saved the now-50-year-old Tedeschi’s life.

Photo courtesy of Elise Roth Tedeschi

The cancer survivor shared her story with WSB-TV Atlanta, and explained that her unique gene composition meant that chemotherapy was more effective for her than for some other patients. “What gave me this cancer actually had the ability to take it away,” she revealed, adding that the journey was arduous, nonetheless: “I think that you have to find the doctor willing to fight for you.”

Tedeschi, bolstered by her mantra and the love of her family, battled hard. At one stage, she weighed in at a worrisome 89 pounds (approx. 40 kg) and was incredibly sick, but at times “still woke up incredibly joyful.” Tedeschi continued: “I remember telling my dad, ‘I’m so thankful for going through this.’ He thought I was crazy for saying that, but I felt as though for me, faith was a huge piece of it.”

Photo courtesy of Elise Roth Tedeschi

And “faith,” as one of the four “Fs” that kept Tedeschi going, saw her through to the finish line of her journey of survival against the odds.

Tedeschi joined PanCAN’s Survivor & Caregiver Network and became a volunteer for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, wanting to share her story. “They give hope,” she told PanCAN.org. And Tedeschi’s outreach didn’t stop there. In early March of 2019, “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek announced during filming that he had just received the very same diagnosis: pancreatic cancer. “Under the terms of my contract, I have to host ‘Jeopardy!’ for 3 more years,” he added with a wry smile. “So, help me! Keep the faith. And we’ll win.” Tedeschi, hearing Trebek’s news, felt the uncanny aftershock of her own, similar experience.

Alex Trebek during a rehearsal of ‘Jeopardy!’ (©Getty Images | Kris Connor)
Photo courtesy of Elise Roth Tedeschi

What Tedeschi did next was a bold, public move and a generous gesture of solidarity. She wrote an open letter to The Daily Meal.

“Go kick cancer’s butt — it has no chance against you! You got this!” Tedeschi wrote. “You may wonder how I stayed positive,” she continued. “My family became my prayer warriors, my caregivers and my security. I didn’t choose to get cancer … but I do get to choose my attitude. So I choose to be happy and live my life!”

Photo courtesy of Elise Roth Tedeschi

Years ago, after her original diagnosis, Tedeschi had no idea that the devastating blow would turn out to be a blessing in disguise, and an opportunity to spread love and support to so many, including Alex Trebek. “I had no idea that I would end up feeling that this was a gift in a strange package,” Tedeschi shared.

“I had no idea that this would be a journey of love, hope, and faith.”

Watch Alex Trebek’s heartfelt address to his viewers in the video below.

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