Alex Trebek's Wife Talks Noticing Symptoms Ahead of His Cancer Diagnosis

Jean and Alex Trebek
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Alex Trebek's wife is getting candid about the Jeopardy! host's pancreatic cancer diagnosis, opening up about the first time she knew something was wrong with his health.

In an essay for Guideposts, Jean Trebek reveals the moment in which she became concerned for her husband's health, noting that a family trip to Israel in December 2018 tipped her off. The first hint of trouble for Jean was when Alex's complexion changed and his stomach began acting up, but she attributed it to travel, thinking it wasn't unusual.

When the family returned home and his symptoms continued, the two visited a doctor for some guidance and testing. Still, their concerns weren't that high as Jean reveals the pair went forward with a previously planned trip to New York following his initial tests. "His doctor ran some tests, then some more. We weren't so worried that we canceled a trip to New York. It was there, in our hotel, that we got a call from his doctor. 'We need to see you as soon as you get back from your trip. We have some concerns.'"

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(Credit: Jeopardy Inc/CBS Television Distribution)

When they returned home, the couple learned he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his stomach.  Considering jaundice is one of the symptoms attached to pancreatic cancer, Jean feels some level of responsibility for not having her husband checked sooner. The grief over Alex's diagnosis brought back similar feelings she had following the death of her brother, Chris, years ago.

"All the terrible pain and loss I'd felt at Chris's death came back. Only my faith in God's ultimate goodness and love had gotten me through that period of my life. Then I met Alex, as if the Lord had led me through my grief to the man I would love forever. I couldn't imagine my life without him," she writes.

But one thing that Jean has realized as her husband continues to undergo treatment is that this diagnosis doesn't have to be a death sentence. "With each passing day, I have found so much to be grateful for. Alex's work. Our kids, our friends, a sunset, a flower blooming in our garden. This didn't have to be a death sentence. It could be a life sentence. A constant reminder of how precious life is. The smallest things that I once took for granted now carry more meaning."

Since Trebek's diagnosis, there have been some adjustments to the household diet as Jean details that they've opted for a more vegetable-based meal plan. "We usually eat one big meal a day at 5 p.m. Then we watch Jeopardy!"

Alex is reportedly back in the studio as filming on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune resumed last month. Stay tuned for new episodes which will likely begin airing in the coming weeks.

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