Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek recently opened up about his battle with pancreatic cancer, and the optimism he showed when he announced his diagnosis earlier this year has been replaced by realism. Trebek is going through another round of chemotherapy – which is taking its toll on the 79-year-old – and he hinted in a new interview that his time on Jeopardy! could be coming to an end.
Trebek sat down with the Canadian news program W5, and he revealed that he will continue to host the popular game show “as long as [his] skills don’t diminish.” The problem is, his chemotherapy is starting to affect him in ways he didn’t expect.
“I talk to the producers about this all the time now. I say, ‘Look, I’m slurring my words. My tongue doesn’t work as much, as well as it used to. The chemo has caused sores inside my mouth. It makes it difficult for me to speak and enunciate properly,’” explained Trebek. “They say, ‘Well, we don’t notice.’ I notice those things. And I’m sure there are observant members of the television audience who notice also.”
This is a quick and notable change from Trebek’s interview in August, when he revealed that his first round of chemotherapy was over and he was “on the mend.” At the time, Trebek said that he would return to Jeopardy! and they had some exciting plans for his 36th season, so it was “going to be a good year.”
By September, things had made a turn for the worse, as Trebek said he had to undergo a second round of chemo, and all of the hair he had started to grow back would disappear again. Trebek added that he hadn’t been able to get his strength back since he began his treatment.
When he announced his stage IV pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March, Trebek said that normally the prognosis is not very encouraging, but he was going to fight the disease and he would continue working. His plan was to beat the low survival rate statistics with the love and support from friends and family and with the help of prayers.
He's a class act. And I've loved his show for years. Used to watch it as a kid with my grandmother. And still watch it at my desk at work before the news. Who is Alex Trebek. Wishing you all the best. pic.twitter.com/UVpTZpNwTF
— Kevin Holmes (@kholmesKSHB) October 7, 2019
However, Trebek now says he’s not afraid of death because he has lived a full life, and now he is nearing the end of that life.
“If it happens, it happens. Why should I be afraid of it?” asked Trebek.
The Canadian-born game show host also admitted that he has regrets about making his diagnosis public because he has become a spokesperson for pancreatic cancer. The TV legend says that he doesn’t know if he is strong enough or intelligent enough to alleviate the despair associated with the disease.
Alex Trebek did keep his trademark dry sense of humor in the interview, saying that it does bother him that he might pass away before he has a grandchild, telling his children (who were off-camera) “hint, hint!”
New episodes of Jeopardy! air weekdays in syndication.