In an emotional interview with “Good Morning America,” Alex Trebek opened up about his ongoing treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer. “I’m on the right track,” he said, of the results he’s getting from an experimental immunotherapy treatment.
“They do a blood test to see what my CA19 numbers are,” he told GMA’s T.J. Holmes. “Eight weeks ago, the numbers were at about 3500, now they’re below 100. So I’m going in the right direction.”Read More
If it doesn’t work, “I’ll just continue with chemo and see what happens,” he says, adding that his family understands, “that there is a certain element regarding quality of life. And if the quality of life is not there, it’s hard sometimes to push and say, well, I’m going to keep going even though I’m miserable.”
For now, though, Trebek remains positive: “My doctor has told me that he is counting on me celebrating two years of survivorship past the diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and that two years happens in February,” said Trebek.
“So I expect to be around ‘cause he said I will be around. And I expect to be hosting the show if I am around,” he added.
Support Through Challenging Times
Trebek admitted that his ongoing treatment and bouts of pain often made him feel like a burden to his wife, Jean, 55. “Yeah, I’ve used that [word],” he told Holmes.
“Jeanie asked me in the morning, ‘How do you feel?’ And I said, ‘I feel like I wanna die.’ It was that bad,” Trebek told “Good Morning America”. “I apologize to her and explain that it has nothing to do with my love for her or my feelings for her. It just has to do with the fact that I feel like I’m a terrible burden to her. And that bothers me tremendously.”
Trebek posted this health update on “Jeopardy!” social media and announced the show’s plans to air throwback episodes through August 14.
He got emotional as he talked about his wife of 30 years. “She’s a saint,” Trebek said. “She has so much goodness in her that she is always giving out, always putting out to help me get over difficult moments. And there have been some difficult moments”
“I’m just in awe,” he said, pausing to choke back tears, “of the way she handles it.”
Plans For “Jeopardy!” And Treatment “Paying Off”
In a surprise announcement posted on “Jeopardy!” social media, a bearded Alex Trebek shared news that he’s been busy recording openings for a special series of episodes: “For the first time ever, we are going to open the Jeopardy vaults, and take another look at some of our favorite episodes, including the very first Jeopardy! show I ever hosted, mustache and all.” The episodes will run July 20 to August 14.
Trebek also shared a video health update, the first since the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis in early March. “I’d also like to take this opportunity to give you a quick health update. I’m doing well. I’ve been continuing my treatment and it is paying off, though it does fatigue me a great deal. My numbers are good. I’m feeling great.”
His Memoir Is Out Today
“In fact,” Trebek added, “during the break from the studio, I even wrote a book that will be coming out July 21st.”
“For over three decades, Trebek had resisted countless appeals to write a book about his life,” his publisher, Simon & Schuster, says of the highly anticipated book.
Why now? “I’ve received so many expressions of love and so many prayers said on my behalf since my diagnosis was made public, I thought, well, maybe the people would like to learn something about me.”
He plans to donate his book advance to charity: “They offered me a good deal of money,” he added. Trebek and his wife Jean recently donated $500,000 to Hope of The Valley Mission to support their plans for Hope Central, a new homeless shelter for seniors, with construction slated to begin in 2021, according to TMZ.
Alex Trebek’s Cancer Journey
Since he announced his diagnosis in March 2019, Trebek has been openly sharing health updates with fans. On the one-year anniversary diagnosis of Trebek’s disease, he announced that he was “beating the odds,” given that the one-year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer patients is 18%.
Trebek also admitted that he had experienced moments of depressing while going through chemotherapy treatments, and considered giving up at times.
“There were moments of great pain; days when certain bodily functions no longer functioned, and sudden massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on,” Trebek said. “But I brushed that aside quickly because that would have been a massive betrayal.”
Back to Work?
“It sure as hell would be good to get back to work,” Trebek told GMA’s Holmes. “I miss it. It’s been part of my life – a very important part of my life — for 36 years.”
The job, he says, inspires him to keep going, even when he’s not feeling his best. “I’m good at faking it but there have been tough moments and I don’t know what it is, but when it’s time to go, it’s time to go Let’s do it. Get out there, suck it up. Make it happen.”
“It’s something that I can’t explain intellectually,” Trebek continues. “At a gut level, without even thinking about it, I just wake up and I’m able to perform and handle the show. Because I like it, it’s a good job.”
In his taped video for “Jeopardy!” Trebek says the show will resume taping once COVID-19 restrictions start to ease. “Once again, I can’t wait to return to the studio and start recording some shows for the new season in September,” Trebek said in his update. “Meanwhile, my wish for all of you – stay safe.”