Alex Trebek is working on new Jeopardy! clips during the COVID-19 pandemic while promoting the release of his new memoir.
The 79-year-old host says his treatment is helping him "in the right direction," but adds that he won't "go to any extraordinary measures to ensure [his] survival" after this latest round of immunotherapy treatment.
He says that his treatment "fatigues me a great deal," but also that his love for Jeopardy! helps him through: "I’m able to perform and handle the show because I like it."
UPDATE 7/21/20: Despite some improvement, Alex Trebek says he's preparing to "start getting [my] affairs in order" in the case that his latest round of cancer treatment doesn't improve his condition, in a revealing interview with ABC News.
The Jeopardy! host, who will celebrate his 80th birthday this week, is currently undergoing experimental immunotherapy treatments for his stage-4 pancreatic cancer — the same procedures that helped former U.S. Senator Harry Reid enter remission after his struggle with pancreatic cancer, Good Morning America reports. "I'm going in the right direction," Trebek explained. "The doctors have said they have never seen a chart like mine because there are peaks... They usually see it going up. I’m a bit of an anomaly."
In an interview about his new memoir published this week, Trebek told the The New York Times that he wouldn't continue this treatment if the latest round didn't impress doctors, also telling ABC News that he wouldn't "go to any extraordinary measures to ensure my survival." His family has "handled it beautifully" and has always been extremely supportive of his journey since his diagnosis, Trebek's wife Jean chiefly among them. "She's a saint... She has so much goodness in her that she's 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."
Trebek's treatment has been particularly tough: In a recent Jeopardy! clip, the host admitted that it "fatigues [him] a great deal" and expanded on how treatments affect him. "There was one day a few weeks ago when Jeanie asked me in the morning, 'How do you feel?' And I said, 'I feel like I [want to] die.' It was that bad," Trebek shared with ABC News, adding that he experiences severe pain at night. "I’m good at faking it... [But] there have been tough moments. And I don’t know what it is, but when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Let’s do it. Get out there, suck it up, make it happen."
"They're not only watching a quiz show host when they watch the @Jeopardy program... they are watching a friend, an uncle... somebody who's been in their living rooms for the past thirty-six years." - Alex Trebek pic.twitter.com/lpQvZsejNC
— First Coast News (@FCN2go) July 21, 2020
That attitude largely stems from his love for Jeopardy! and the love he feels as part of that show: "It’s something that I can’t explain intellectually... I suddenly wake up and I’m able to perform and handle the show because I like it. It's a good job,” said Trebek, who has been hosting the show for 36 years.
If everything goes his way, Trebek says he'll continue to host well into his 80s: "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," Trebek told ABC News. "So I expect to be around, [because] he said I will be around. And I expect to be hosting the show if I am around."
ORIGINAL 7/16/20: Alex Trebek has been quite busy during his time away from the Jeopardy! set. Apart from quarantining, he's finished a new memoir, which is slated to be released next week. But Trebek has also faced more of a challenge than many during the coronavirus pandemic: He's carried on with treatment for stage-4 pancreatic cancer, a health plight that he's been fighting for more than a year with the support of his family, friends, and fans.
In a new video update, Trebek admits that his treatment during the pandemic has been tough: "I’ve been continuing my treatment and it is paying off, although ... It does fatigue me a great deal," he shared. Despite the challenge, though, Trebek adds, "my numbers are good, and I'm feeling great."
Trebek, who's gearing up to celebrate his 80th birthday on July 22, seemed to be in great spirits, too, even joking about his new facial hair. He also shared that he's recording brand new show openings this month as Jeopardy! is planning a special program: "For the first time ever, we’re going to open the Jeopardy! vaults and take another look at some of our favorite episodes."
In reaction to the health update, Trebek's fans penned encouraging words to the Jeopardy! host. "I wish you the best, Alex. Stay strong and I look forward to the book!" one fan wrote. Another said, "Fantastic to hear from you. You look and sound great. Thank you for your update and looking forward to our nightly half hour together."
I admire Alex for being real each step in his journey. At 80, he continues to share his experience when it would be easier to be private. Thank you Alex for all you do to help us understand pancreatic cancer. I wish you happiness and comfort in your life with loved ones near you
— Danielle 2 (@unelecttrump20) July 20, 2020
— Cherish❤️For🛐Lewis 7 (@RadFinch) July 16, 2020
The next Jeopardy! season is slated to film in September, as contestant auditions recently resumed via Zoom video conferences. Trebek says he'll be right there when the time comes: "I can't wait to return to the studio and start recording shows for the new season ... Meanwhile, my wish for all of you? Stay safe."
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