Al Roker, 67, opens up about the emotional moment he told his three kids he had prostate cancer


‘It was the first time I saw fear in my children’s eyes’: Al Roker, 67, opens up about the emotional moment he told his three kids he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer

  • Roker reflected on how his children, Courtney, 35, Leila, 23, and Nick, 19, reacted to his cancer diagnosis in a Father’s Day segment that aired on the Today show 
  • The weather anchor learned he had prostate cancer after a routine physical in September 2020 revealed he had elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
  • Roker recalled how his kids ‘started crying’ when he told them he had cancer, saying, ‘It was the first time I saw fear in my children’s eyes’
  • He added that he realized at that moment he can’t always ‘protect’ his children from hurt and harm, but ‘you can do the best you can’ 
  • Roker underwent a five-hour surgery to remove his prostate and surrounding lymph nodes on November 9, 2020, three days after he announced his diagnosis 
  • He received a pathology report a week later that found there was no evidence of cancer in his body outside of his prostate, which he had surgically removed 
  • Roker continues to undergo blood tests to check his PSA level every six months, which he has to do for five years following his initial diagnosis 

Al Roker has opened up about the emotional moment he told his three children he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. 

The Today weather anchor, 67, had surgery to remove his prostate and surrounding lymph nodes in November 2020. Nearly two years later, he continues to undergo regular testing to ensure his cancer hasn’t returned. 

Roker reflected on how his children — Courtney, 35, Leila, 23, and Nick, 19 — reacted to his cancer diagnosis while filming a Father’s Day segment that aired on Friday’s show. 

‘It was the first time I saw fear in my children’s eyes. I mean, they started crying,’ he told his co-stars and fellow dads Craig Melvin and Carson Daly at Coney Island’s Luna Park.

Al Roker, 67, opened up about the emotional moment he told his three children he had prostate cancer during a Father's Day segment that aired on the Today show Friday

Al Roker, 67, opened up about the emotional moment he told his three children he had prostate cancer during a Father’s Day segment that aired on the Today show Friday 

'It was the first time I saw fear in my children's eyes. I mean, they started crying,' he said of his kids Courtney (far left), Leila (second from right), and Nick (center)

‘It was the first time I saw fear in my children’s eyes. I mean, they started crying,’ he said of his kids Courtney (far left), Leila (second from right), and Nick (center) 

‘At the end of the day, that’s all you wanna do is protect them and shield them from hurt and/or harm,’ he explained. ‘And at that moment, I realized you can’t always do that. But you can do the best you can.’

‘That’s what I know our fathers did,’ he added, looking at Melvin, 43, and Daily, 48. ‘And that’s all we can do.’ 

Roker’s story particularly struck a chord with Daly, who lost his own father to cancer. 

‘I’m 48. My dad died when he was 46,’ he recalled. ‘I was five when he died.’

As an adult and father himself, Daly now realizes how difficult it must have been for his parents to shield him and his siblings from his dad’s illness.  

The weather anchor told his co-stars Craig Melvin (left) and Carson Daly (right) that he realized he can't always 'protect' his children from hurt and harm, but 'you can do the best you can'

The weather anchor told his co-stars Craig Melvin (left) and Carson Daly (right) that he realized he can’t always ‘protect’ his children from hurt and harm, but ‘you can do the best you can’

Roker (pictured with his kids and wife, Deborah Roberts) learned he had cancer after a routine physical in September 2020 revealed he had elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA)

Roker (pictured with his kids and wife, Deborah Roberts) learned he had cancer after a routine physical in September 2020 revealed he had elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA)

‘Going through chemo, the hiding it from us — we didn’t really even know,’ he explained. ‘All the days, the doctor calls, how scared he must have been, my mom going through this with young kids, and yet our childhood seemed so normal.’

Roker was diagnosed with prostate cancer after a routine physical in September 2020 revealed he had elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which is a screening tool for early detection.

A biopsy confirmed he had a more aggressive form of prostate cancer, but, fortunately, it was caught early enough to be removed during surgery.

The Today star went public with his diagnosis on the show on November 6, 2020, and three days before he underwent a five-hour surgery performed by Dr. Vincent Laudone at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. 

A week later he received a pathology report that found there was no evidence of cancer in his body outside of his prostate, which he had surgically removed. 

Roker shared his story while visiting Coney Island's Luna Park with Daly and Melvin

Roker shared his story while visiting Coney Island’s Luna Park with Daly and Melvin 

Roker announced on the Today show on November 6, 2020, that he had prostate cancer

Roker announced on the Today show on November 6, 2020, that he had prostate cancer

Roker underwent a five-hour surgery to remove his prostate as well as the surrounding lymph nodes on November 9, 2020

Roker underwent a five-hour surgery to remove his prostate as well as the surrounding lymph nodes on November 9, 2020

‘The prognosis at this point in time, based on how the surgery went and based on his pathology report, everything looks very favorable,’ Dr. Laudone said on the show that month. ‘We would say that Al has no evidence of any cancer, but we’ll continue to monitor him for several years.’ 

Roker was with his wife, Deborah Roberts, and son, Nick, when he heard the good news, though he noted he was ‘not out of the woods.’ 

‘It was this great relief,’ he told his co-stars Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. ‘For a first start, this is terrific news. I’m going to be up for — and a lot of people who live with cancer — up for lifelong testing to make sure this doesn’t come back.’

Not only was the surgery a success, but he also recovered quickly. The weather forecaster was up and doing laps around the hospital hallways just hours after the procedure, according to Today.

Three days later, he was back to enjoying his five-mile walks through Central Park — no matter what the weather. He took to Instagram to share a video of himself walking in the rain while urging his followers to get tested. 

A few weeks after the surgery, Roker opened up about his prostate cancer battle on the Today show, happily reporting that he appeared to be cancer free

A few weeks after the surgery, Roker opened up about his prostate cancer battle on the Today show, happily reporting that he appeared to be cancer free 

Roker (pictured when he had his shoulder replaced in August 2020) said he felt 'much better' after the surgery than he did with his joint replacements

Roker (pictured when he had his shoulder replaced in August 2020) said he felt ‘much better’ after the surgery than he did with his joint replacements

‘I feel good,’ Roker said. ‘The technology has gotten so good — they did it with a robot — that I felt much better after the surgery than I did with any of my joint replacements.

‘I didn’t feel like I had major surgery, but I’ve got this swelling around my stomach, so clothes don’t fit quite right right now. I’m very vain, so right now I feel like the Michelin Man.’

Roker continues to undergo blood tests to check his PSA level every six months, which he has to do for five years following his initial diagnosis. 

He explained on the show that he went public with his prostate cancer battle to raise awareness for the disease, which one in nine men will be diagnosed with.

The odds are even higher for African American men, who are 50 percent more likely to develop the disease in their lifetime and twice as likely to die from it.

Roker (pictured on November 15, 2020) was back to enjoying his five-mile walks through Central Park just days after his surgery

Roker (pictured on November 15, 2020) was back to enjoying his five-mile walks through Central Park just days after his surgery 

Roker continues to undergo blood tests to check his PSA level every six months, which he has to do for five years following his initial diagnosis

Roker continues to undergo blood tests to check his PSA level every six months, which he has to do for five years following his initial diagnosis

Roker stressed that men over 40 — especially African American men — should get tested regularly.

The Today star has received an outpouring of love from his colleagues, friends, and fans since his diagnosis, which he said he is incredibly grateful for.

‘Al, did you realize how many people loved you, man?’ Kotb asked.

‘I truly didn’t. You don’t hear about this until you’re dead,’ Roker joked. 

Daly also praised Roker for going public with his cancer journey when he joined the conversation on the show.

‘You’re terrific, Al, because you were brave to do this on the air. It’s a personal choice. Think of the millions of people that you’re helping,’ he said. ‘You’ve literally saved millions of lives and are a superhero.’

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