Friday Frontline: Cancer Updates, Research and Education on October 11, 2019

From a health update from Alex Trebek to the sudden death of Bernie Sander’s daughter-in-law, here’s what is making headlines in the cancer space this week.

The daughter-in-law of democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has died — two days after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

Rainè Riggs passed away on Oct. 5, following a neuroendocrine cancer diagnosis. She became ill three weeks ago, according to her obituary. Hospitals were stumped, so she went to UPNC in Pittsburgh where she learned of her disease.

The 46-year-old was a neuropsychologist who was the director of behavioral medicine at Dartmouth Medical School for several years and started the Palliative Care Department for Dartmouth Medical Center.

Riggs and Levi Sanders have three children.

Chemotherapy is taking its toll on Alex Trebek, according to a new interview with the Jeopardy! host. He revealed this week that the medications to treat his pancreatic cancer have affected his eyesight and joints, as well as caused mouth sores and weakness.

Trebek said he has no plans to leave the show as long as his skills do not diminish. “I’m sure there are observant members of the television audience that notice also, but they’re forgiving,” he said. “But there will come a point when they (fans and producers) will no longer be able to say, ‘It’s OK.’”

The 79-year-old also explained that he’s not afraid of dying: “I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life… if it happens, why should I be afraid of that?”

Hallmark Channel host Cameron Mathison is cancer-free. The 50-year-old revealed the news in an Instagram post while making his first public appearance since his surgery to remove renal cell carcinoma in September.

They removed the tumor and part of his right kidney. Fortunately, Mathison revealed, the cancer didn’t spread.

“I’m feeling really, really well,” he told Extra. “It’s three weeks out of surgery and I honestly didn’t even think I would be feeling up to coming here. The recovery has been great, the surgery went really well, the prognosis is very optimistic.”

Hold the chips: A vending machine at Oregon Health and Science University's Knight Cancer Research Building is serving up DNA kits.

The test is part of a pilot project that will allow researchers to screen for certain genetic mutations that can put people at higher risk of cancer. The researchers hope to learn more about how behaviors, lifestyle and genetics play a role in that risk.

It will screen for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, which are associated with a greater risk of breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers; Lynch syndrome, which increases a person’s risk for colorectal, uterine, stomach and ovarian cancers; familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and attenuated FAP that raises the risk for colorectal, small bowel, pancreatic and thyroid cancers; and a few other less common inherited cancer-related syndromes.

Those who participate will have results back in four months.

Former NFL player DeAngelo Williams is honoring his late mother by paying for mammograms.

Williams, who was a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, started covering the costs of mammograms in 2015 to help women across the country. Since then, his nonprofit organization, The DeAngelo Williams Foundation, has paid for 500 mammograms at hospitals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Memphis, Tennessee; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

DeAngelo’s mother Sandra Hill died of breast cancer in 2014 at age 53. Williams also lost four aunts to the disease, according to a report by Today.

“To be able to help all these women is amazing. This can be life-changing for these women,” DeAngelo said. “We are enabling them to get this care that no one should ever be denied or not have access to.”