Alex Trebek says he will stop hosting 'Jeopardy!' when 'I start slipping' as cancer prognosis worsens

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Alex Trebek has spoken out about his cancer battle and future as host of Jeopardy!. (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)
Alex Trebek has spoken out about his cancer battle and future as host of Jeopardy!. (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)

The pandemic has put production on Jeopardy! on hold — but Alex Trebek says he’ll continue to host so long as he’s able.

As his long-running quiz show pivots to re-airing vintage episodes after exhausting its supply of pre-coronavirus tapings, the beloved TV host has spoken to the New York Times about his treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer and how it will impact his future with Jeopardy!

“It’s a quality program, and I think I do a good job hosting it, and when I start slipping, I’ll stop hosting,” said Trebek, who assured fans earlier in the week that he’s “doing well” as he continues treatment.

Having celebrated surviving one year since his diagnosis in March — something only 18 percent of those with his diagnosis do — the Canadian-American presenter is now looking forward to two new important milestones: his 80th birthday, on July 22, and the July 21 publication of his memoir, The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life.

While Trebek told the Times that taping some new footage to accompany the Jeopardy! reruns helped “regain my strength,” calling getting back on camera “some kind of an elixir,” he was frank about the low points he’s faced as a cancer patient. Despite beating the odds and reaching the one-year mark post-diagnosis, Trebek’s prognosis is now less hopeful. If his current course of treatment doesn’t work, he’ll stop.

“Yesterday morning my wife came to me and said, ‘How are you feeling?’ And I said, ‘I feel like I want to die.’ It was that bad,” he said. “There comes a time where you have to make a decision as to whether you want to continue with such a low quality of life, or whether you want to just ease yourself into the next level. It doesn’t bother me in the least.”

Indeed, his colleagues on Jeopardy! have borne witness to his health struggles, including a moment in which his pain was so intense Trebek sobbed from the floor of his dressing room — then went on to tape five episodes.

“Once I introduce him on that stage, he is Alex Trebek,” longtime Jeopardy! announcer Johnny Gilbert told the Times. “You can tell that that’s what he’s living for.”

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