When longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek announced he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, he had no idea it would affect his fans the way it has.
“That was not my purpose in making my announcement,” Trebek told ABC’s Michael Strahan during an exclusive interview. "I just wanted to get ahead of the tabloids becaue I knew that they would emphasize and misrepresent what was happening to me.
“And you’ve seen some of the headlines in the tabloids -- ‘He’s not going to make it to Christmas,’" Trebek continued. “OK, I’ll show them. I am going to make it (to Christmas) and beyond.”
Last March, Trebek announced on “Jeopardy!” that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“I knew as soon as the doctor came back and mentioned the pancreas, I said, ‘Uh oh, it’s going to be cancer,’” Trebek recalled. "I’ve always wondered how courageous a human being I was. I just look at it as, it’s a part of life. Does that mean I’m courageous because I’m dealing with it? No. I could be scared to death, and I’d still have to deal with it.
“But I’m not scared to death,” Trebek added. “So maybe I am courageous. Go Alex!"
Trebek has been married to his wife, Jean Trebek, for 29 years and they have two adult children together. She hadn’t spoken publicly on her husband’s illness until now.
The toughest part for her, she said, is “when I see him in pain and I can’t help him. And when he doesn’t eat right. When he has too much soda,” Jean Trebek said with a laugh.
Since his cancer diagnosis, Trebek’s life hasn’t been the same.
“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," Alex Trebek said. "And because of that, and something that is operating here, people all over America and abroad have decided that they want to let me know now, while I’m alive, about the impact that I’ve been having on their existence.”
Trebek added, “They have come out and they have told me. And, my gosh, it makes me feel so good.”
Watch Trebek on '"Jeopardy!" at 7 p.m. on Channel 9. And, hear more from him and his family during the primetime special “What is Jeopardy!?: Alex Trebek and America’s Most Popular Quiz Show” at 8 p.m.
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