“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek plans to stop receiving treatments for his pancreatic cancer if his current chemotherapy regimen fails.
Trebek discussed the next steps of his battle with stage-4 pancreatic cancer with The New York Times in an article published on Friday. The popular game show host, who turns 80 on July 22, said that his current course of cancer treatments is, at times, almost unbearable.
“Yesterday morning my wife came to me and said, ‘How are you feeling?’ And I said, ‘I feel like I want to die.’ It was that bad,” Trebek told NYT. “There comes a time where you have to make a decision as to whether you want to continue with such a low quality of life, or whether you want to just ease yourself into the next level. It doesn’t bother me in the least.”
Trebek has hosted “Jeopardy!” for more than three decades. Normally, he records 10 shows a week from July through April, so when the coronavirus hit, CBS still had new material to air for three months into the shutdown. After that ran out, producers played popular reruns.
The 79-year-old says one of the moments he feels at his strongest is when he is taping his game show. “It’s the strangest thing. It is some kind of an elixir,” he said.
He has begun recording new episodes again and plans to continue until he feels like his performance slips and hurts the show’s quality. “It’s a quality program, and I think I do a good job hosting it, and when I start slipping, I’ll stop hosting,” he said.
Trebek was diagnosed with stage-4 pancreatic cancer in March 2019. Initial rounds of treatment showed promise, reducing his tumors by 50% and showing “mind-boggling” progress toward remission. He said he had “tears of joy” when he heard the news.
“I’ve got a couple million people out there who have expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy directed towards me, and their prayers,” he said in a May 2019 interview. “I told the doctors, this has to be more than just the chemo, and they agreed it could very well be an important part of this.”
“I’ve got a lot of love out there headed in my direction and a lot of prayer, and I will never, ever minimize the value of that,” Trebek added.
Trebek’s initial progress was undone earlier this year when his condition began to worsen. He announced in a video update earlier this year that his cancer was not in remission and had come back.
“The one-year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is 18%. I’m very happy to report I have just reached that marker,” Trebek began in a March 4 video.
“Now, I’d be lying if I said the journey had been an easy one. There were some good days but a lot of not-so-good days,” Trebek said. “I joked with friends that the cancer won’t kill me, the chemo treatments will. There were moments of great pain, days when certain bodily functions no longer function and sudden, massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on.”
“You know, my oncologist tried to cheer me up the other day. 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,” he continued. “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. I’ll keep you posted.”