As new paparazzi photos emerge of “Jeopardy!” host, Alex Trebek gallantly wheeling his trash to the curb, his fans were charmed by news of a four-week-old “Trebek” namesake at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo.Read More
Trebek Eager To Return To Work
Trebek, 79, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in 2019. He’d been undergoing treatment while filming “Jeopardy!” until quarantine orders descended in March.
“Alex is looking forward to resuming production as soon as we are able to do so,” a “Jeopardy!” representative told TVLine. “He’s told us he wants to be one of the first shows back in production.”
The Cancer-Wisdom of Trebek
In March, Trebek announced that he’d beaten the odds for stage 4 pancreatic cancer in a heartwarming video: “The one-year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer patients is 18%,” he explained. “I’m very happy to report that I have just reached that marker.”
The Emmy-winning host — “Jeopardy!” won the 2020 Outstanding Game Show award in June — has inspired others by openly sharing the wisdom he’s gained during his journey. Here, we’ve collected the Trebek powerful insights for the SurvivorNet community.
Awareness Saves Lives
“I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced before my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” Trebek shared in a November 2019 PSA for the World Pancreatic Coalition, which has drawn over 186,000 views. “Other common symptoms can include mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, new-onset diabetes and the yellowing of the skin or eyes.”
Trebek partnered with the organization, “in order to help patients fight and survive this disease, more attention and awareness are needed,” he said. His decision to become involved, “is having a big impact on heightening awareness of the risks and symptoms of this terrible disease.” the WPC told SurvivorNet.
You Are Not a Statistic
In March, Trebek announced that he had beaten the odds and survived for one year after his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis, a milestone achieved by only 18% of patients with the same diagnosis. His next goal, join the even fewer survivors who make it to year two — a statistic that dips to 7%. Still, Trebek said, his oncologist was looking forward to celebrating his second
Kelly Shanahan, a doctor living with metastatic breast cancer, explains why she doesn’t live by the statistics.
anniversary of survival — and he invited others fighting the disease to join him in achieving that goal: “If we take it just one day at a time, with a positive attitude, anything is possible,” he said.
“Statistics apply to large populations — not people,” says Kelly Shanahan, a doctor and metastatic breast cancer patient (above) who’s also beating the odds. Like Trebek, Shannahan says her greatest hope remains with research, which is why she is an activist for improving clinical trials and an advocate for metastatic-specific research.
Depression Is A Cancer Side-Effect
In a prime-time interview with ABC’s Michael Strahan, Trebek revealed that he’s experienced bouts of depression since his diagnosis.
“My oncologist told me one of the symptoms, if you will, of pancreatic cancer, is that you get these moments of depression, sadness.”
Dr. Scott Irwin, a psychiatrist and Director of Supportive Care Services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, on treating depression during cancer care.
“I’m not used to dealing with the surges that come on suddenly of deep, deep sadness and it brings tears to my eye. I’ve discovered in this whole episode, ladies and gentlemen, that I’m a bit of a wuss,” he said.
Love and Humor Matter
Despite the emotional side-effects, Trebek remains committed to maintaining a positive attitude. “My self-deprecating humor is worth its weight in gold,” he said. But he’s also accepting of his uncertain prognosis, noting, “I have learned something in the past year and it’s this: We don’t know when we’re going to die. Because of the cancer diagnosis,” he continued, “it’s no longer an open-ended life, it’s a closed-ended life because of the terrible … survival rates of pancreatic cancer.
Because of that, 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.”
Helping Others Helps, Too
In June, Trebek dug deep, donating $500,000 to Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission, to support their new San Fernando Valley homeless shelter project. Hope Central’s proposed 50,000-square-foot facility will break ground in 2021 with plans house homeless seniors in the area.
Ken Craft — founder of Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission — told TMZ this latest donation brought him to tears. He said the Trebeks — his wife Jean joined him in donating — hoped their generosity would inspire others to help out the homeless crisis.
This latest donation comes on the heels of his $100,000 gift to Hope of the Valley’s facility in North Hollywood, in early March.
The Power of Purpose
Although “Jeopardy!” tapings are currently on hold, due to the coronavirus outbreak, Trebek has found support in his workplace family (which includes his daughter Nicky, who works on the show), contestants, and fans.
In a recent interview with comedian, Paula Poundstone’s podcast, Trebek shared that he arrives at the studio by 6 a.m.on shooting days. “We tape 3 shows in a row with one audience,” he said, followed by a break. “And then we tape the last two shows with another audience.” This two-day per week schedule, Trebek explains, captures ten shows.
“There are weaknesses that I feel in my body … but I can always suck it up [when] Johnny says, ‘And now, here’s the host of Jeopardy,” he told CTV news in an interview.
From quarantine, Trebek also announced that he’s been finishing his memoir, “The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life,” which will be published on July 21.