Long-time Jeopardy! game show host Alex Trebek has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Trebek released the news himself, via a YouTube video that was published on the Jeopardy! channel on Wednesday afternoon. Trebek says it is his intention to finish out the season as host of the show.
Via the video, Trebek told his fans he would rather relate the news himself rather than have them hear about it and possibly get inaccurate information through the rumor mill. He added that it was the policy of the game show to be “open and transparent” with the fans of the beloved show.
“I have some news to share with all of you,” Trebek began.
“Just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.”
Trebek then goes on to allow that generally speaking, such a prognosis is not very hopeful. Stage 4 cancer is, of course, the most advanced, and is defined as a cancer that has spread, or metastasized. According to Healthline, pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death. Experts place the median survival rate for patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer as advanced as stage 4 at just two to six months.
While acknowledging the seriousness of his diagnosis, Trebek faced the camera with his typical energy and optimism, assuring his fans that the diagnosis is far from the end of the line.
“I’m going to fight this. And I’m going to keep working. And with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.”
While the original version of Jeopardy! first premiered in 1965, the game show has undergone several changes. However, the current syndicated version first aired in 1984 and has featured Trebek as host the entire run. The show has aired over 7,000 episodes, garnering 33 Daytime Emmy Awards as well as a Peabody Award in the process. In 2013, TV Guide ranked Jeopardy! as No. 45 out of the 60 greatest shows of all time.
The fans certainly seem to agree. The show has been adapted regionally in numerous other countries, and in its 35th season premiere in September 2018.
And Trebek has become as much of an icon as the show itself, famously parodied on Saturday Night Live by Will Farrell, and in countless other places. The famous “answer in the form of a question” requirement has practically become a part of the broader culture, it’s so well known.
To wrap up his video presentation, Trebek turned to his famous wit to provide a ray of hope for the fans and spoke about his plans to stay on the air and battle the disease.
“Truth told,” he said,
“I have to [fight it.] Because under the terms of my contract I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years!”