Al Roker made his return to TODAY on Monday, complete with his favorite theme music from “The A-Team,” for his first appearance since Nov. 6, when he revealed that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Great medical care and the love of friends and family, it goes a long way,” Al said at the beginning of the show.
Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie told Al he’s never looked better.
“Actually I was hoping I looked a little better,” Al joked.
The 66-year-old weatherman and co-host underwent a five-hour surgery at New York City’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on Nov. 9 to have his prostate removed along with some surrounding tissue and lymph nodes.
After announcing his diagnosis, Al received an outpouring of support from fans and colleagues.
“Usually you’re dead when you get all this love,” Al said.
He has had a strong support system throughout his journey.
“A lot of love from my family, Deborah and Nick and Leila and Courtney, and a lot of you, and all of you here, just really took care of me,” he said.
His recovery has gone well, and his trademark sense of humor clearly made it through the surgery intact.
“I feel good, I really do,” he said. “Look, after the first week when you get that catheter out, I was feeling good!”
A week ago, he shared the good news that a pathology report following his surgery had found that there is no evidence of cancer beyond the prostate.
“It was this great relief,” Al said on TODAY last week. “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.”
Al’s surgeon, Dr. Vincent Laudone, also shared a positive outlook following the procedure.
“The prognosis at this point in time based on how the surgery went and based on his pathology report, everything looks very favorable,” Laudone said on TODAY last week. “We would say that Al has no evidence of any cancer, but we’ll continue to monitor him for several years.”
Al will go for follow-up blood test in the first week of January to test his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and then will undergo testing every six months for the next five years.
He decided to share his journey publicly because he wants to spotlight the fact that 1 in 7 African American men, 1 in 9 men overall, will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. He wants to urge men, particularly Black men, to make sure they see a doctor to get the proper checkups to stop a cancer that is very treatable if detected early.
“The problem for African American men is that any number of reasons from genetics to access to health care, and so we want to make it available and let people know they got to get checked,” Al said on the day he revealed his diagnosis.
Al’s return also means he’s back in time to join Hoda and Savannah for another year of bringing everyone some holiday cheer as the hosts of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
While this year’s parade will have pandemic-related changes, like no parade route and no big crowds, Al’s nemesis from last year, the man in the butter suit, will be making an appearance.
“You know what, there will be butter, that’s what I can tell you this year,” Susan Tercero, the executive producer of the parade, said on TODAY last week. “We will absolutely have butter man joining us.”
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