Alex Trebek says working on ‘Jeopardy!’ is an ‘elixir,’ talks quality of life

'Jeopardy!' host Alex Trebek shares cancer update, March 2020.
"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek shares cancer update, March 2020. | Twitter/@Jeopardy

Legendary game show host Alex Trebek, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer last March, shared he started to regain his strength as he began recording “Jeopardy!” He said he’s at a stage in his life when “you want to just ease yourself into the next level” instead of continuing with “such a low quality of life.”

In about an hour and a half, he narrated introductions for 20 episodes a few weeks ago, Trebek, known for his steadiness and good-humored personality, told The New York Times.

Until the recording started, Trebek was in pain and felt weak. “Oddly enough, when we started taping I suddenly started to regain my strength. It’s the strangest thing. It is some kind of an elixir.”

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The show hadn’t been recorded since the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in March, and shows recorded earlier were being aired during the period. But when producers ran out of new material, they decided to resurrect popular episodes from years past.

Trebek, a longtime spokesperson for Christian humanitarian group World Vision, said he recorded show openings at home for a batch of special “Jeopardy!” episodes that will be released this month.

The host, who has a degree in philosophy from the University of Ottawa, said “Jeopardy” is a quality program and that he would stop hosting if “I start slipping.”

“Yesterday morning my wife came to me and said, ‘How are you feeling?’ And I said, ‘I feel like I want to die.’ It was that bad,” he said. “There comes a time where you have to make a decision as to whether you want to continue with such a low quality of life, or whether you want to just ease yourself into the next level. It doesn’t bother me in the least.”

“I’m doing well,” Trebek said in a video shared on the show’s official Twitter account last week. “I’ve been continuing my treatment and it is paying off though it does fatigue me a great deal. My numbers are good. I’m feeling great.”

In a health update in March, Trebek had said, “There were moments of great pain, days when certain bodily functions no longer functioned and sudden, massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on.”

“The one-year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer patients is 18 percent. I’m very happy to report I have just reached that marker.

Trebek went on to say at the time that he would’ve given up if not for his support system.

“I brushed that aside quickly because that would have been a massive betrayal. A betrayal of my wife and soulmate, Jean, who has given her all to help me survive. It would have been a betrayal of other cancer patients who have looked to me as an inspiration and a cheerleader of sorts of the value of living and hope. And it would certainly have been a betrayal of my faith in God and the millions of prayers that have been said on my behalf,” Trebek said.

Trebek told the Times that he had also kept busy with his memoir, The Answer Is …: Reflections on My Life, which Simon & Schuster will release Tuesday, a day before his 80th birthday.

According to the publisher, Trebek will share “illuminating personal anecdotes” along with thoughts on everything from his favorite guests to spirituality and philanthropy.

Trebek was a journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation before moving to the United States. In 1998, he became a U.S. citizen. He has hosted “Jeopardy!” since 1984, when ABC tapped him for the job.

He has won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host over the course of his over 30 years on the air, according to

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