Alex Trebek has been adamant that he intends to continue hosting Jeopardy! as long as he possibly can, despite continuing to undergo chemotherapy for stage four pancreatic cancer. However, the moment when the longtime host has to step away may come sooner rather than later.
In a remarkably candid interview with Canadian news show W5, Trebek (who is himself Canadian) says he will continue hosting Jeopardy! “as long as [his] skills do not diminish,” but notes that “they have started to diminish.”
“I talk to the producers about this all the time now. I say, ‘Look, I’m slurring my words. My tongue doesn’t work as much, as well as it used to. The chemo has caused sores inside my mouth. It makes it difficult for me to speak and enunciate properly,'” he says. “They say, ‘Well, we don’t notice.’ I notice those things. And I’m sure there are observant members of the television audience who notice also.”
“I’m not as bothered by it because all of the people around me are saying, ‘No, it’s okay,'” Trebek continues. “But there will come a point where they will no longer be able to say, ‘It’s okay.'”
Elsewhere in the interview, Trebek speaks with equal frankness about the looming possibility of his death, saying he is “not afraid of dying.”
“One thing they’re not gonna say at my funeral as a part of a eulogy, ‘He was taken from us too soon.’ I’m 79 years old. So, hey, I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life. I know that. I’m not gonna delude myself,” he continues. “If it happens, it happens. And why should I be afraid of it?”
Trebek returned to work on the currently-airing 36th season of Jeopardy! in late August, announcing he had finished chemotherapy. However, last month he told Good Morning America he would undergo another round of the treatment, admitting he may have been “overoptimistic.”
A representative from Sony, which produces the popular game show, told EW in a statement, “There are no changes to the tape/production schedule for this season.”
You can watch Trebek’s full interview above.