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The longtime television personality and game show host sat down for an intimate interview with ABC News alongside his wife of 29 years and spoke openly about his health battle.
Alex Trebek revealed in the spring of 2019 that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. During this television special titled What Is Jeopardy!? Trebek explained that facing his now “closed-ended life” has been difficult.
“Most of us have open-ended lives, we don’t know when we’re going to die. Because of the cancer diagnosis, it’s no longer an open-ended life, it’s a closed-end life because of the terrible statistics, survival rates for pancreatic cancer.”
Trebek’s wife, Jean, says that the hardest part for her is the feeling of helplessness.
“I think for me it’s when I see him in pain and I can’t help him,” said Jean, adding, “And when he doesn’t eat right … when he has too much diet soda,” she added jokingly.
While Alex Trebek has known for some time that he would have to leave the show as his health deteriorated, he has never spoken openly about that final day…until now.
The 79-year-old has been the host of Jeopardy! for 36 years and is scheduled to be the host until 2022, but if his health gets worse, that may not be the case. When that happens, however, Trebek says he already has rehearsed that day.
“It’ll be a significant moment but I’ve kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already,” he explained of his final show. “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.”
“I will say my good-byes and I will tell people: ‘Don’t ask me who is going to replace me, because I have no say in that whatsoever. But I’m sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me for the past 30, however many years, then they will be a success, and the show will continue being a success.’”
He has a bright spirit and says that he wants to continue hosting for as long as possible. We hope that his final show is a long time from now, but when that day does eventually come – he says he will end it with a simple sign-off.
“Until we meet again, God bless you and good-bye.”