“Jeopardy!” has discontinued live audiences during tapings at the Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California. The show announced the measure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus among audience members. Many also view the decision as a good way to protect Alex Trebek, whose immune system may be compromised as a result of treatment for his stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“Out of an abundance of caution due to the spread of COVID-19, we have decided to cancel audience attendance for the tapings of “Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy!’ for the time being,” a person close to “Jeopardy!” told The Washington Post on Monday. Now, when Johnny Gilbert announces, “This is Jeopardy!’” as he’s been doing since 1984, viewers will miss the accompanying sound of applause from the studio audience.
Read More— Jillian (@_IDKmyBFF_Jill_) March 10, 2020
Due to their age, both Trebek, 79, and Gilbert, 95, are vulnerable to complications from the virus, according to the CDC, which says older adults and people who have serious, chronic medical problems are at higher risk. Trebek is also vulnerable due to his chemotherapy treatments, which can compromise the immune system for months after treatment has ended.
Trebek is Beating the Odds
The announcement follows Trebek’s March 4th health update, in which he said he’d beaten the odds, living for one year after his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. “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.”
He’s faced “a lot of not-so-good days” in the year since his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer. But on the anniversary of his diagnosis, Trebek told fans and viewers that he has powerful reasons for pushing forward: his wife, Jean, first and foremost. And his many supporters, especially those in the cancer community. Giving up, he explained, “would certainly have been a betrayal of my faith in God and the millions of prayers that have been said on my behalf.”
The update comes one day after news of Trebek’s $100,000 donation to the L.A. homeless shelter, Hope of the Valley Mission. Alex and Jean Trebek have been longtime supporters of the charity. In appreciation, the shelter will name a wing of their new facility in Trebek’s honor.
“Day At a Time”
Trebek then shared a private conversation: “You know my oncologist tried to cheer me up the other day,” Trebek continued. “He said “Alex, even though the two-year survival rate is only 7%,” he was certain that — one year from now — the two of us would be sitting in his office celebrating my second anniversary of survival.”
Trebek clearly identifies himself as a member of the cancer community — and he finished his update with a message directed at others who are coping with diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. “And you know something? If I — no, if we, because so many of us are involved in this same situation — if we take it just one day at a time with a positive attitude, anything is possible.”
Recognizing Symptoms Leads to Earlier Diagnosis
One significant impact of the “Jeopardy!” host’s remarkable openness about his disease is known as the Trebek Effect, which has triggered an unprecedented level of awareness of pancreatic cancer and the warning signs that can help speed a diagnosis. In Trebek’s PSA for the World Pancreatic Coalition, he acknowledged the low survival rate for pancreatic cancer, “In nearly every country, pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer with a five-year survival rate in the single digits.”
The best way to combat the disease, Trebek said, is by letting people know it exists and needs attention. “And that’s why I’ve joined forces with the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, to help raise global awareness of the risks and symptoms of pancreatic cancer.”
Trebek got personal when he identified the symptoms he wished he’d recognized before he was diagnosed with his disease, “I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced before my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer.” He went on to list more symptoms so that viewers could be better informed, “Other common symptoms can include mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, new-onset diabetes and the yellowing of the skin or eyes.”