Alex Trebek Talks About the Value of Fan Support During Cancer Battle

Trebek opened up about how fan support has boosted his spirits during his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.


Image via Getty/Michael Tran

Alex Trebek

During a rare interview with Michael Strahan that's set to air on Thursday evening, Alex Trebek and his wife are opening up about the toll that the legendary Jeopardy! host's battle with cancer is taking upon the both of them. 

According to Deadline, at one point in the interview Trebek says that concerns and outpouring of support from fans are much appreciated, though they also can cause him to get emotional. This, of course, explains the viral reaction that Trebek had after contestant Dhruv Gaur wrote "We [love] you Alex," as his Final Jeopardy answer during an episode that aired this past November. 

“I don’t mind getting choked up," Trebek told Strahan. "My oncologist told me one of the symptoms, if you will, of pancreatic cancer is that you get these moments of depression, sadness." 

It was revealed this past March that Trebek was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer after he told that to the world through a YouTube video. Trebek states that that diagnosis was preceded by a call he had made to his doctor when he started to feel severe stomach pains. Furthermore, he stated that he knew that the news was "going to be cancer" once his doctor made mentioned of his pancreas.

As for Jean Trebek, who has been married to Alex for 29 years, she was the first person outside of he and his doctor to learn of the diagnosis. She said that the hardest thing about the ordeal has been being unable to help when he's in pain, while Alex added that the disease has led to difficulties for her as well as their two children.

“It’s always tough for caretakers because she has to deal with her worrying about my well-being and also dealing with," Alex said. "… I’m not always the most pleasant person to be around when I’m experiencing severe pain or depression, and she has to tread lightly around me.”

Trebek had seen his cancer go into remission back in the Spring, but by September it was revealed that he'd be undergoing an additional round of chemotherapy.

In the upcoming interview with Strahan he also speaks about the silver lining that such a terrible diagnosis has had, which is that people have come forward to share the positive impact that he's had on them while he's alive to appreciate it.

“I have learned something in the past year and it’s this: We don’t know when we’re going to die,” Trebek said. “Because of the cancer diagnosis, it’s no longer an open-ended life, it’s a closed-ended life because of the terrible … survival rates of pancreatic cancer. Because of that, and something else that is operating here, people all over America and abroad have decided they want to let me know now, while I’m alive, about the impact that I’ve been having on their existence.

“They have come out and they have told me, and my gosh, it makes me feel so good.”

The full interview/special, titled What Is Jeopardy? Alex Trebek and America’s Most Popular Quiz Show, is set to air at 8 p.m. ET this Thursday, January 2, on ABC.

As for seeing him in action, Trebek is set to host the Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Timetournament, which pits the show's three biggest money winners: James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, against one another.

That's set to begin airing on January 7.

Latest in Pop Culture