Just shy of 80 years old,Alex Trebek is ready to open up about his life and his current battle with pancreatic cancer. He is publishing his memoirThe Answer Is … Reflections on My Life today and he is giving interviews to support the release.
He told ABC that he often feels like a “burden” to his wife of 30 years Jean, but that “she’s a saint. She has so much goodness in her that she is always giving out, always putting out to help me get over difficult moments.”
Trebek also spoke to Good Morning America about his current health status, and offered a beacon of hope for the future.
Trebek told GMA: “They do a blood test to see what my CA 19 numbers are, and the CA 19 numbers are an indicator of how your pancreatic cancer is progressing. Eight weeks ago, the numbers were at about 3,500. Now, they’re below 100. So I’m going in the right direction. The doctors have said they have never seen a chart like mine because there are peaks. I said ‘what do you mean you don’t see that that often? What do you usually see?’ They usually see it going up [steadily]. I’m a bit of an anomaly.”
In February, it will mark two years since being diagnosed. The Jeopardy! host said: “My doctor has told me that he is counting on me celebrating two years of survivorship past the diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and that two years happens in February. So I expect to be around — because he said I will be around — and I expect to be hosting the show if I am around.”
Trebek is undergoing experimental immunotherapy treatments, and while he has hope, he said that he won’t “go to any extraordinary measures to ensure my survival. I’ll just continue with chemo and see what happens. If the quality of life is not there, it’s hard sometimes to push and just say, ‘Well, I’m going to keep going, even though I’m miserable.'”
In his book, the Los Angeles Times writes that he is uncharacteristically revealing about his emotional struggle.
“He told me not to feel embarrassed, but I said, ‘I do feel a little embarrassed. I feel like a wuss. It’s not that men shouldn’t cry. It’s that, my God, Alex, get yourself together, here,’” Trebek recalls. Just the day before, he says, he started getting “very emotional for no reason that I can think of” while his son, Matthew, was preparing dinner. Noticing his father’s upset, the 30-year-old stopped cooking and came over to the kitchen table to pat his dad’s back. “And then, the moment was gone. Thank God these things don’t last long. I know that now, so it doesn’t scare me as much as it used to.”