'Jeopardy!' Host Alex Trebek Keeps a Positive Outlook as He Battles Cancer
"I'm gonna fight this." With these four words, Alex Trebek answered the question that sprang to Jeopardy! fans' minds when the game-show host announced he'd been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
The 78-year-old posted a video March 6 revealing that "just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year," he had been given the news of his condition and that "normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging." But a determined Trebek said he would continue working and has faith that the support and prayers of family, friends and viewers will aid in his battle against this aggressive disease, which makes up 7 percent of cancer-related deaths. "I plan to beat the low survival-rate statistics," he vowed.
This is not Trebek's first health scare. In 2011, he tore his Achilles tendon while chasing a burglar out of his hotel room in San Francisco. A year later, he suffered a mild heart attack. He had a full knee replacement in late 2015, which resulted in him hosting some episodes of Jeopardy! while sitting down. And in January 2018, the genial Canadian — who has won five Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Game Show Host since this current version of Jeopardy! launched in 1984 — took a brief leave of absence to have blood clots on his brain removed following an accident the previous October. Jeopardy! shoots up to five episodes a day, so none of these situations called for anything more than minor changes to the show's airing schedule.
Should Trebek now need to take significant time off, he has already hinted at a potential fill-in host: During a New York City appearance last month, he suggested TCM's Ben Mankiewicz or Betty White, joking that producers would probably want "somebody younger."
Trebek's sly sense of humor is also evident in his inspiring video, which he closed out with this humorous, though heartfelt, appeal: "Under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years. So help me! Keep the faith and we'll win. We'll get it done." And so begins a real tournament of champions.
Some of Trebek's fellow TV hosts shared some words of encouragement upon hearing the news.
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"So brave, inspiring, honest and yes, he even added hopeful. He's asking for our prayers so I'm joining in along with I'm sure millions of others." — Maria Shriver, NBC News
"I hope some very good L.A. oncologists are getting ready to have their mispronunciations corrected." — Ken Jennings, former Jeopardy! champ