One year ago, “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and given a a grim prognosis.
Wednesday morning, to mark his first anniversary with the disease — a milestone neither he nor his oncologists predicted he would reach — Trebek posted an emotional video update, sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past year, and updated “Jeopardy’s” and the hosts many fans on his fragile condition.
“The one-year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is 18%,” a serious Trebek said in the video, which was posted to “Jeopardy’s” official Twitter feed. “I’m very happy to report I have just reached that marker.”
A one-year update from Alex: pic.twitter.com/W9101suZeZ
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) March 4, 2020
The last year, the host said, has been difficult. In May, he was told his cancer was in remission and that he could expect to return to normal life — an update that doctors called “mind-boggling,” according to STATNews. At the time, doctors said, Trebek’s tumors had shrunk by 50%.
“[T]hey hadn’t seen this kind of positive results in their memory,” Trebek said in a video released May 23rd.
A few months later, though, Trebek announced, sadly, that he had to resume chemotherapy treatment and that his cancer, contrary to earlier reports, was not in remission.
“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 Wednesday. “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.”
The love of his wife, his faith, and the love of his fans saved him, he added, getting emotional.
“But I brushed that aside quickly because that would have been a massive betrayal — a betrayal of my wife and soulmate, Jean, who has given her all to help me survive,” Trebek said. “It would have been a betrayal of other cancer patients who have looked to me as an inspiration and a cheerleader of sorts of the value of living and hope, and it certainly would have been a betrayal of my faith in God and the millions of prayers that have been said on my behalf.”
Trebek has partnered with pancreatic cancer charities to help improve diagnosis, treatment, and support for pancreatic cancer patients, few of whom are the host of a nationally syndicated game show. He’s also working on videos designed to help raise awareness about the disease and its early warning signs.
“I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced prior to my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” Trebek said in a video for the Pancreatic Cancer Coalition, released earlier this year. “Other common symptoms can include mid-back pain, unexplained weight loss, new-onset diabetes and the yellowing of the skin or eyes.”
Not all of Trebek’s revelations were cheery. Towards the end, Trebek noted to viewers and fans of “Jeopardy” that a two-year anniversay video is less likely than a one-year anniversary video.
“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,” Trebek said on Twitter. “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.”