Jeopardy's Alex Trebek opens up about his cancer battle, 'moments of sadness' and the healing love of fans

Jeopardy's Alex Trebek opens up about his cancer battle, 'moments of sadness' and the healing love of fans
Alex Trebek (R) and Jean Currivan Trebek arrive at the 38th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards held at the Las Vegas Hilton on June 19, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Getty Images)

Alex Trebek has become an icon for multiple generations since he began hosting the game show, 'Jeopardy'. His cancer diagnosis left millions of fans distraught, with one, Dhruv Gaur, opting to write "We [love] you, Alex!," instead of the right answer during the Final Jeopardy round losing all but five dollars -- this move led Trebek to momentarily choke up.

In an interview with ABC News, Trebek opened up about this, saying, "I read it first and then I got choked up because it suddenly registered on me: ‘Oh, dear. OK. Yeah'". He added, "I don’t mind getting choked up. My oncologist told me one of the symptoms, if you will, of pancreatic cancer is that you get these moments of depression, sadness."

Trebek first announced his cancer diagnosis in March of this year and though he had said it was in remission, he told the world that the cancer was back in October. He said during the interview that he told the news of his cancer to his wife, Jean Trebek first. Alex and Jean have been married for 29 years.


Alex said he didn't tell her "as quickly as I could have" because " it was not devastating news to me". He continued about his diagnosis, "Throughout my life, I’ve always wondered about how courageous a human being I was. I just look at it as it’s a part of life. Does that mean I’m courageous because I’m dealing with it? No. I could be scared to death and I’d still have to deal with it.”

The host of "Jeopardy!" Alex Trebek attends a press conference to discuss the upcoming Man V. Machine "Jeopardy!" competition at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center on January 13, 2011, in Yorktown Heights, New York (Getty Images)


For Jean, the hardest part of the ordeal is to see her husband "in pain and I can't help him", she told ABC News. She also said it was hard seeing him make poor dietary choices, joking, "Too much diet soda."

Alex Trebek responded, "It’s always tough for caretakers because she has to deal with her worrying about my well-being and also dealing with… I’m not always the most pleasant person to be around when I’m experiencing severe pain or depression, and she has to tread lightly around me."


Though Trebek acknowledged that he may not have a lot of time left to live, he said that prayers of fans who have expressed support have helped him feel better. He said, "Because of [the cancer diagnosis], and something else that is operating here, people all over America and abroad have decided they want to let me know now, while I’m alive, about the impact that I’ve been having on their existence. They have come out and they have told me, and my gosh, it makes me feel so good,” Alex Trebek added.

Trebek said that he might try a new protocol which may involve a different kind of chemotherapy or "something in the trial stage that is not chemotherapy", adding, "I don't mind experimenting. I've got nothing to lose, so let's go for it."

Though fighting his cancer, Trebek is still working hard and taping episodes of 'Jeopardy!', with the possibly week-long 'Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time' set to air in January 2020. 


In the past, he has said that he will continue hosting the show "as long as my skills have not diminished". He told ABC News that he's already thought about how he will say goodbye to those who will one day watch his final time hosting the show.

He said, "It’ll be a significant moment for me. But I’ve kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already, and what I would do on that day is tell the director, ‘Time the show down to leave me 30 seconds at the end. That’s all I want.’ And I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people, ‘Don’t ask me who’s going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me... then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.”


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