“We’re starting a new year, and let’s see if we can’t both complete the year as pancreatic cancer survivors,” Trebek said when he was asked what he’d tell Rep. Lewis, according to the Associated Press.
“I have learned something in the past year and it’s this: We don’t know when we’re going to die,” Trebek told Good Morning America‘s Michael Strahan earlier this month. “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.”
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Both men have been public with their health struggles, drawing support from fans and friends across the world. In late December, former President Barack Obama offered his support for Lewis with a statement on social media.
“If there’s one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, it’s his incomparable will to fight,” Obama tweeted. “I know he’s got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend.”
If there’s one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, it’s his incomparable will to fight. I know he’s got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 30, 2019
Lewis has said he’s “clear-eyed” about the cancer diagnosis but was optimistic about new treatment options for what was once thought to be an incurable form of the disease.
“I have a fighting chance,” he said in a statement in December.
The longtime Georgia congressman was a leading voice in the civil rights movement, speaking at the 1963 March on Washington and marching in Selma, Alabama.
“We still have many bridges to cross,” Lewis said in his statement announcing his illness, adding, “I will return to Washington in coming days to continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which will occur over the next several weeks. I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon.”
Trebek recently said there may come a time when the longtime game show host may not be able to do the show. He said he’s already planned his final remarks.
“I’ve kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already, and what I would do on that day is tell the director, ‘Time the show down to leave me 30 seconds at the end. That’s all I want,’ ” Trebek said last week, adding that he’d hope to say, “‘And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.’ “