LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Game show legend Alex Trebek recently shared news about his health taking a downturn in his battle against pancreatic cancer. 8 News Now was there for the announcement and sat down with Trebek as he discussed what he is going through.
Trebek has been a comforting, witty, and eloquent presence in our living rooms, as the host of Jeopardy, for three-and-a-half decades. We first heard the news in March that Trebek is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
After an initial encouraging response to treatment, another announcement was released in mid-September.
“This past summer, because I was making such good progress, we thought I was finished with chemo. That was a bit premature, and certainly over-optimistic,” Trebek announced.
Trebek’s numbers went south, and it happened quickly.
“The doctors are now re-examining my situation, and it appears I will be having more chemo treatments ahead of me…”
8 News Now anchor Brian Loftus had the honor to sit down with Trebek on the day of that announcement. He was forthright in talking about what he’s going through, explaining his seemingly indefatigable response in his battle against cancer.
“There’s nothing I could do about my situation that I’m not doing. I’m following the doctors recommendations,” Trebek said.
During treatment, Trebek will continue to host Jeopardy. He says he considers himself lucky. He referenced his age of 79 saying he’s lived a good life and added that others fighting cancer have it more difficult
“Some of them are suffering in pain, some of them become addicted to opioids because of the pain they’re enduring. I don’t have that except on rare and fleeting occasions.”
Maybe surprising for someone directly in the spotlight for decades, but his outlook often circles back to putting others first including reflecting on how cancer impacts his family.
“Don’t let yourself get down too much, because not only does it affect you, but it affects the people around you. That’s probably the toughest part, dealing with the people who are close to you, your loved ones because you are trying to not complain, trying to not put too much pressure on them. You realize that you’re short with them sometimes for no good reason whatsoever that you can’t explain, and it’s unfair to them.”
He’s handled his diagnosis, with optimism and courage, even vulnerability. He has inspired others in their own fight
“I don’t feel that i’m a great inspiration,” Trebek said.
Brian Loftus: “Your reaction to it has inspired them. You’re doing it. You really are.”
Alex Trebek: “That’s a good thing, and I thank you for viewing me in that way.”
Trebek told a story about how a main line water leak at his house provided an unforeseen victory.
Trebek, a handyman on the home front, had water shooting 25 feet in the air. He pushed aside how he was feeling, got his shovel, cut the pipe, and replaced it, fixing the leak.
“I told my wife, I said, I felt really good about being able to do this today, because I’ve been feeling very very weak. I have trouble going up stairs. It was so satisfying to be able to do work like that around the house. If you care for your home, and take pride in your home, and you are one of those individuals who, when something goes wrong, you want to fix it immediately then these are the kinds of things that bring tremendous satisfaction and I love it!”
He’s still smiling, still hosting, still fixing leaks.
Facing stage 4 cancer, Alex Trebek has chosen a path of being positive. And for others facing their own great challenge, he imparts a powerful message.
“I want to be a positive influence in terms of the message I send them, and that is, hey, stay the course, keep your chin up. You never know things have a way of turning quickly in relation to cancer. One week from now they may have a cure!”