Trebek: Difficult times in year since cancer diagnosis


Jeopardy! host endured 'massive attacks of depression'

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (WPRI) — Fighting cancer is hard, even — or especially — if you’re at the center of a television show where getting questions and answers right is crucial.

To mark one year since he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy! since 1984, posted a brief video message on the show’s official social media channels Wednesday. He noted that the survival rate of Stage 4 patients like himself, after one year is 18 percent, and after two years, just 7 percent.

For the first year, so far, he’s been in the very lucky 18 percent, he said.

But, “I’d be lying if I said the journey had been an easy one,” he admitted. “There were some good days, but a lot of not-so-good days. I joked with friends that the cancer won’t kill me; the [chemotherapy] treatments will!

“There were moments of great pain, days when certain bodily functions no longer functioned, and sudden, massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on,” Trebek continued.

Keeping going

Trebek, 79, announced his diagnosis March 6, 2019, with a commitment to keep working and a push to beat the disease.

In October, he told CTV News of Canada he’s sometimes had difficulty enunciating words due to chemotherapy sores in his mouth, adding that he’d stay on the show unless his skills diminished too far.

In a January panel promoting “The Greatest of All Time” special prime-time contest, he admitted hair loss has been covered by a wig and a deep tan applied for his television hosting duties.

Rallying for others

But when depression sometimes gripped him in the past year, Trebek said, he rallied and pushed forth because abandoning the fight would be a betrayal to his wife Jean, the millions of people who’ve prayed for him, and all the fellow cancer patients who’ve gotten strength from his public candor and sharing of difficulties.

“If we take it just one day at a time — with a positive attitude — anything is possible,” Trebek said.

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