Alex Trebek Speaks Candidly About Depression in the Wake of His Cancer Struggle
"People all over America and abroad have decided they want to let me know now, while I'm alive, about the impact that I've been having on their existence"
Published Dec 31, 2019After his decades-long period hosting Jeopardy!, and in the wake of his recent cancer diagnosis, Alex Trebek is now taking the time to reflect on his life well-lived and his incredible career.
In an upcoming special with ABC titled What is Jeopardy? Alex Trebek and America's Most Popular Quiz Show, the 79-year-old television host appears with his wife Jean Trebek to speak candidly about his struggle with pancreatic cancer and the possibility of having to leave his host position at Jeopardy!
"It'll be a significant moment for me," said Trebek about eventually leaving the show. "But I've kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already, 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.' And I will say my goodbyes and I will tell people, 'Don't ask me who's going to replace me because I have no say whatsoever. But I'm sure that if you give them the same love and attention and respect that you have shown me...then they will be a success and the show will continue being a success. And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.'"
He also spoke with the network about his struggle with depression as a symptom of his diagnosis.
"I don't mind getting choked up. My oncologist told me one of the symptoms, if you will, of pancreatic cancer is that you get these moments of depression, sadness," he told ABC. "It's always tough for caretakers because [Jean] has to deal with her worrying about my well-being and also dealing with… I'm not always the most pleasant person to be around when I'm experiencing severe pain or depression, and she has to tread lightly around me."
In the face of his struggle, Trebek also revealed his awareness of statistics stacked up against his survival — but remains grateful for his long, incredible life and most of all, his dedicated fans.
"Because of the cancer diagnosis, it's no longer an open-ended life, it's a closed-ended life because of the terrible...survival rates of pancreatic cancer," he said. "Because of that, and something else that is operating here, people all over America and abroad have decided they want to let me know now, while I'm alive, about the impact that I've been having on their existence. They have come out and they have told me, and my gosh, it makes me feel so good."
Despite the difficult road ahead for Trebek, he remains hopeful about his treatment, and is even testing out a new "trial stage" chemotherapy option.
"I don't mind experimenting. I've got nothing to lose, so let's go for it."
Alex Trebek was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer back in March of 2019. His doctors told him her was "near remission" in May, only for his condition to worsen again in September. Last month, a contestant on Jeopardy! named Dhruv Gaur used his "Final Jeopardy" response to express his appreciation for the host.
What is Jeopardy? Alex Trebek and America's Most Popular Quiz Show is set to air on ABC on Thursday (January 2). Watch a preview of Trebek's interview here.