Friday Frontline: Cancer Updates, Research and Education on July 17, 2020

July 17, 2020

From U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg being released from the hospital after an infection related to treatment for pancreatic tumor to Alex Trebek giving an update on the treatment of his stage 4 pancreatic cancer just days ahead of his 80th birthday, here’s what’s making the headlines in the cancer space this week.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was released from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore a day after she was admitted for a possible infection.

In August 2019, Justice Ginsburg, 87, the senior member of the U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal wing, underwent treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas. The bile duct stent was inserted during this treatment.

“She is home and doing well,” Kathleen Arberg, a Supreme Court spokeswoman, said in a statement after Ginsburg was discharged. Initially it was believed that Ginsburg would have to be in the hospital for multiple days, but she was discharged earlier than expected.

A cancer survivor who had received multiple rounds of treatment as a child graduated high school as the valedictorian of his class amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2014, John Hagen was interviewed on camera while at St. Jude Children’s Hospital toward the end of his treatments for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up he answered, “Architect, I love math and geometry is my favorite subject.”

However, shortly after the interview, John’s cancer returned and he had to undergo a stem-cell transplant as multiple organs were failing. “Things were so bad that we were really living minute-to-minute,” said Kathy, John’s mom and eventual stem-cell donor, in an interview reflecting on John’s graduation and journey. At the time, the family was preparing for the worst but eventually doctors at St. Jude were able to identify John’s mother as a donor.

John’s father recently reached out to the doctors at St. Jude’s who treated him to thank them and let them know John was graduating valedictorian, attending college in the fall and had switched his career path toward the medical field. He received a warm reply just a few minutes later.

A cancer survivor was hospitalized for over three weeks due to a COVID-19-related infection and is now back in the hospital for COVID after being discharged.

“Went through chemo, radiation and to be honest with you, I must’ve been lucky because this is so much worse than me going through cancer,” Kelly Warrick, 49, said in an interview comparing her COVID-19 experience to her cervical cancer journey a few years ago.

According to Warrick, she was discharged from Memorial Hermann Health System in Texas on Friday July 10, but had to return to the emergency room the next day.

“I do understand it hits people differently, but you don’t know how it’s going to hit you so it’s not something to mess around with,” Warrick said.

Six days ahead of his 80th birthday, “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek released a video updating fans on his health amid his treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

"I'm doing well,” the “Jeopardy!” host said in an interview showing off his quarantine goatee. “I've been continuing my treatment, and it is paying off, though it does fatigue me a great deal. My numbers are good, I'm feeling great."

The positive update comes after Trebek opened up about handling depression related to his treatment as well as side effects that lead to moments of great pain, as well as, his hair loss and trouble to enunciate during speech.

While at home, Trebek will continue to film openings that will precede airings of classic “Jeopardy!” episodes throughout the rest of the summer.


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