Amidst his battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer Alex Trebek, the amiable host of Jeopardy!, told Good Morning America on Monday that he is worried about his illness’s impact on Jean, his wife of 30 years.
“There was one day a few weeks ago,” said Trebek, “when Jeanie asked me, ‘How do you feel?’ and I said, ‘I feel like I want to die.’ It was that bad.”
Trebek said he immediately apologized and explained, “I feel like I’m a terrible burden to her. And that bothers me tremendously.”
“She’s a saint,” he said of Jean. “She has so much goodness in her that she is always giving out to help me overcome difficult moments. I’m just in awe…” Trebek trailed off before continuing emotionally, “the way she handles it.”
The show, still a ratings powerhouse, announced a “Greatest of All Time” series last week.
Jeopardy! begins taping again in a few weeks and Trebek is confident he’ll be able to host, if only because of the effect stepping on stage has on him.
“I’m good at faking it. Suck[ing] it up,” says the host, before revealing the powerful benefit taping has for him. “I suddenly wake up and I’m able to preform and handle the show.” Why? “Because I like it. It’s a good job!”
The Jeopardy! host said his numbers are good health-wise.
“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,” Trebek explained. “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…They usually see it going up [steadily]. I’m a bit of an anomaly.”
Trebek said in a YouTube video last week that his one-year battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer has included “moments of great pain” and “massive attacks of great depression” that left him questioning the point of “fighting on” – doubts he brushed aside as a betrayal of his wife Jean, his family and fans, other cancer patients and his faith in God.
“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,” the Jeopardy! host told GMA. “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.”
But if the experimental treatment he’s currently undergoing doesn’t work, Trebek says he won’t take any other extraordinary measures.
“I’ll just continue with chemo and see what happens,” he shared. “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.’”
As far as the show is concerned, Trebek says he can’t wait to get back to work. “It sure as hell would be nice to get back to work. I miss it.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.