Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, who has been fighting stage 4 pancreatic cancer, said that he may have to give up hosting the show because chemotherapy treatment he is undergoing causes sores in his mouth that inhibit his speaking clearly. Trebek told CTV’s Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme, “I’m sure there are observant members of the television audience that notice also, but they’re forgiving. But there will come a point when they (fans and producers) will no longer be able to say, ‘It’s OK.'”
Trebek has hosted the show since 1984. The original daytime version of the show debuted in 1964 and was hosted by Art Fleming, airing until 1975. The version with Trebek debuted September 10, 1984.
Both NBC versions and the weekly syndicated version were hosted by Art Fleming. Trebek told LaFlamme, “I’m not afraid of dying; I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life … if it happens, why should I be afraid of that? One thing they’re not going to say at my funeral, as a part of a eulogy, is ‘He was taken from us too soon.’”
He stated, “A lot of people are coming to me and looking for help, reassurance — and that’s tough,” adding that it was hard “trying to be as optimistic as you can when the other person feels none of that … they feel only despair. And I don’t know if I was strong enough or intelligent enough to help alleviate that despair.”
Trebek revealed his eyesight “gets messed up a little,” from the chemotherapy. He added that the “day after that, I start getting pains in my joints … There are weaknesses I feel in my body but I can always suck it up when it comes to tape the show.”
In September, after Trebek had to reundergo chemotherapy after he had finished his first round, he told “Good Morning America,”“I was doing so well. And my numbers went down to the equivalent of a normal human being who does not have pancreatic cancer. So we were all very optimistic. And they said, ‘Good, we’re gonna stop chemo, we’ll start you on immunotherapy.’ … I lost about 12 pounds in a week. And my numbers went sky high, much higher than they were when I was first diagnosed. So, the doctors have decided that I have to undergo chemo again and that’s what I’m doing.”
Trebek added that when he was first diagnosed he experienced a “surge of sadness” and “depression.” He continued, “When it happened early on I was down on myself. I didn’t realize how fallible each of us is in his or her own way … I talk to the audience sometimes and I get teary eyed for no reason. I don’t even bother to explain it anymore, I just experience it. I know it’s a part of who I am and I just keep going.”
Trebek told LaFlamme that what still drives him is “to make a difference in the lives of people.”