You may not recognize the photo or even the name Randy Pausch. He died at age 47 from pancreatic cancer. During the final year of his life he shared with the world his Last Lecture—On Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. His inspired talk, as he said each time he delivered it, “is not about death, it’s about life.” Randy Pausch knew that his life was in jeopardy but he worked hard to live with full measure. He pursued medical treatment until he felt there were no further options. He surrendered to the inevitability of his death, with gratitude, sharing with as much equanimity that a husband and father of three young children could express without a sense of being denied a longer life.
Last week, a familiar face and name announced that he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. At age 78, Alex Trebek knows the jeopardy his life is in:
“The prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working. And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease. Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years! So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done. Thank you.”
Jeopardy, the game show, is unique in requiring answers to be formatted in question form. The answer to everyone’s life will be death, the question though is how does one choose to live. This is so even for Final Jeopardy, when one can wager all of one’s life on an ending that is filled with a gratitude for having been a denizen on this planet Earth.