With a great deal of resolve, popular game-show host Alex Trebek said last week he has no fear of dying as a resurgence of his pancreatic cancer has triggered a second round of aggressive chemotherapy.
The “Jeopardy!” host sat down with CTV News anchor Lisa La Flamme to discuss his cancer diagnoses, its remission, its heartbreaking return, and what it’s been like to become the “de facto” spokesperson for pancreatic cancer.
“I’ve lived a full life, a good life, and I’m nearing the end of that life. I know that,” Trebek said. “I’m not gonna delude myself. If it happens, it happens. Why should I be afraid of that?”
Trebek, 79, has played host to the popular game show since 1984 and his current contract isn’t set to expire until 2022, though he admitted he might have to step away sooner.
The Ottawa native said that, while he feels certain “weaknesses” in his body, he can “always suck it up when it comes time to tape the show.” There will, however, come a time when that’s no longer the case, at which point he’ll call it quits, he told La Flamme.
“We’re back on the chemo and we’ll see if the numbers go down. They can’t keep doing it forever, of course,” he explained. “They’ll have to find a new protocol, or whatever, to administer. We’ll play it by ear and keep chugging along until we either win or lose.”
One of the most difficult parts of having pancreatic cancer, Trebek said, has to do with his fame. Sometimes, the show host lamented, he feels he’s become too iconic, and as a result, been handed the role of “de facto” flag bearer for those fighting similar diagnoses — a task he said he often feels unequipped to handle, both emotionally and intellectually.
The resurgence of Trebek’s cancer comes months after the famed TV personality announced he was “near remission” after vowing to fight the illness aggressively. At the time, he credited his impressive recovery to the thousands of prayers he was receiving, saying he’ll “never, ever minimize the value of that.”
In late August, he announced he had completed chemotherapy treatments and was “on the mend,” ready to premiere season 36 of “Jeopardy!”
Then, in early September, his scans revealed devastating news: Trebek would have to return for another round of chemotherapy because immunotherapy treatments were, in his words, doing “diddly squat” to keep the illness at bay.
As for his faith, Trebek has for years partnered with World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, and he was raised Catholic. He has also been very vocal in seeking the prayers of his fans in the “Jeopardy!” community. When La Flamme asked him about his spirituality, though, Trebek offered up few details about his beliefs.
“I say I’m not [spiritual], my wife says I am without realizing it,” Trebek said when asked about his faith. “I’m sort of spiritual in some ways.”
Trebek is the longest-serving show host in history. The 8,000th episode of “Jeopardy!” premiered last week.
Please continue to pray for Trebek, his children, and his wife as they continue to fight his stage 4 diagnosis.