The Silent Killer That Ended the Lives of Alex Trebek, Steve Jobs, Patrick Swayze, Aretha Franklin, and Alan Rickman

Cancer is a terrible test for anyone. No matter what age you are, or what kind of health you are in, fighting cancer is pretty scary.

Some cancers are far more aggressive than others, and pancreatic cancer is at the top of the list. It’s called the “silent kill” because it’s hard to catch early, with very few warning signs until it’s too late.

Many celebrities have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and sadly have lost the battle. There are, however, a few lucky people who have succeeded and have gone on to survive much longer than one believed.

Pancreatic cancer: the silent killing

Pancreatic cancer it is rare, but terribly aggressive. It is not usually found at an early stage, which is why it has been called “the silent killer.” The pancreas is located below the stomach, and cancer that starts in the pancreas spreads rapidly to the surrounding organs.

Only about 4 percent of patients with this type of cancer survive longer than five years. In the early stages, patients usually have few or no symptoms. The symptoms usually do not show up until the cancer has progressed. Some of the signs include:

  • abdominal pain that radiates to the back
  • indigestion
  • loss of appetite
  • floating stool
  • new onset of diabetes unrelated to weight gain
  • unexplained weight loss

Although it is not clear what exactly causes pancreatic cancer, some factors may increase the risk of developing the disease. Risk factors include obesity, smoking, and poor eating habits.

The disease claimed the lives of several celebrities

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin | Kevin Winter / Staff

Pancreatic cancer has taken people’s lives many famous people. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had a neuroendocrine tumor that started in his pancreas. He had surgery to remove the tumor, but the cancer had spread to his liver, and he died two months after retiring as Apple CEO.

Aretha Franklin had the same type of tumor, and died in 2018.

Alex Trebek, relative guest Jeopardy!, announced his diagnosis of stage IV pancreatic cancer in March 2019. He was very open about his battle with the disease, saying that his main symptom was pain in the stomach that never went away . He died in 2020.

Alan Rickman – famous for his role as Snape there Harry Potter – getting stomach pain for a while. His doctor reassured him that it was just an acid reflux, and he was told to use antacids.

The following year, the pain returned, and he was referred for imaging tests. His scans showed a stage IV tumor that had spread to his liver. He lived for just over a year longer, dying shortly after his 56th birthday in 2014.

Patrick Swayze, who is known worldwide for his moving roles in films such as The strangers and Dirty dance, died in 2009. He was fighting pancreatic cancer for 20 months, and was just 57 when he died.

Michael Landon was diagnosed in April 1991 and lived only for a few months. Despite the gloomy prognosis, Landon tried to maintain a positive outlook, saying: “I think you have to have a sense of humor about everything. If you’re going to try and hit something, you won’t make it stand in the corner. ”

Some very lucky people overcame the strange ideas

Despite the low survival rate, there are some lucky ones who have made it. Actor Charlotte Rae–Mrs. Garrett, from The Facts of Life – was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010. She had surgery, and lived until 2017, when she was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 92.

Ruther Bader Ginsburg was diagnosed in 2009. Her pancreas and spleen were removed, which was successful, as she lived until 2020. Politician Harry Reid on surgery in 2018 after routine screening for pancreatic cancer in the early stages. His surgery was successful, as was the chemotherapy treatment that followed, and Reid is still doing well now.

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