Alex Trebek Admits He Feels Like a “Terrible Burden” to His Wife in Emotional Interview

Nicol Natale
Photo credit: Michael Kovac - Getty Images
Photo credit: Michael Kovac - Getty Images

From Prevention

  • Alex Trebek, 80, shared an update about his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in a new interview with Good Morning America.

  • The longtime Jeopardy! host said he has felt like a “burden” to his wife Jean Trebek.

  • Alex plans to continue hosting Jeopardy! as long as he is able to.

Alex Trebek, who turns 80 today, just gave an update about his health in a new interview with Good Morning America. The longtime Jeopardy! host has had ups and downs since his diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March 2019, and the father of two has leaned on his family, friends, and fans for support.

Understandably, some days are more difficult than others. For example, Alex once recalled to ABC News that his wife Jean Trebek asked him how he was feeling. He replied, “‘I feel like I wanna die.’ It was that bad,” Alex explained. “I apologize to her and explain that it has nothing to do with my love for her or my feelings for her. It just has to do with the fact that I feel like I’m a terrible burden to her. And that bothers me tremendously.”

Despite his feelings, Jean has been there for him through it all. “She’s a saint,” he said while fighting back tears. “She has so much goodness in her that she is always giving out, always putting out to help me get over difficult moments. And there have been some difficult moments. I’m just in awe of the way she handles it.”

In January, Jean told Good Morning America that she feels helpless at times, and the most challenging part of Alex’s cancer battle is “when I see him in pain and I can’t help him.”

The Jeopardy! host said his diagnosis has been “tough” on his wife of 30 years. “It’s always tough for the caretakers because she has to deal with her worrying for my wellbeing and also dealing with… I’m not always the most pleasant person to be around when I am experiencing severe pain and depression, and she has to tread lightly around me,” he said.

But Jean said she has found peace with her husband’s diagnosis. “I, too, strongly believe that the bridge to a peaceful co-existence lies in our ability to respectfully communicate our feelings,” she wrote on her blog Inside Wink. “What’s helped me the most in becoming truly peaceful within, is allowing myself to have my feelings without judgment.”

Although the survival rate of stage 4 pancreatic cancer is low, Alex is seeming some success with an experimental immunotherapy treatment. “They do a blood test to see what my CA 19 numbers are. And the CA 19 numbers are an indicator of how your pancreatic cancer is progressing,” he said. “Eight weeks ago, the numbers were at about 3,500. Now, they’re below 100. So I’m going in the right direction.”

Alex, who has been an integral part of Jeopardy! for nearly four decades, plans to continue hosting the show as long as he is able to.

“My doctor has told me that he is counting on me celebrating two years of survivorship past the diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. And that two years happens in February,” he said. “So I expect to be around ‘cause he said I will be around. And I expect to be hosting the show if I am around.”

We’re rooting for you, Alex!

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