When Alex Trebek posted a video via Jeopardy!’s social media accounts announcing that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, the whole world came together to offer their support and prayers for the longtime host.
Whether you are a fan of Jeopardy! or not, there’s no denying the fact that Trebek has become a television icon over his 30+ year run as host of the show. His dry sense of humour and quick wits always adds a little bit of fun to the fast paced and generally academic nature of the show.
The news was both shocking and sad — pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest to conquer, with a five year survival rate among U.S. citizens under nine per cent. It doesn’t help that stage four is the most advanced form of the disease as well, meaning that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The five year survival rate for stage four pancreatic cancer is just three per cent.
Over 56,000 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, with over 45,000 succumbing to the illness, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). One Californian doctor said that “stage four pancreatic cancer is basically incurable,” per the ACS. He also added that the best case scenario for people in Trebek’s shoes would be to survive for 12 months.
One of the reasons that pancreatic cancer in particular is so deadly, is due to the fact that by the time symptoms start to become present, the cancer has already spread, therefore making it extremely difficult to detect early on.
The five-time emmy award winner was still as stoic as ever, firmly telling the world that he plans to fight the disease. In a typical Trebek manner joking that he has no choice because he still has three more years left on his contract as host.
Trebek, who was born in Sudbury, Ontario, has hosted the show since 1984, and said that he will continue to host until he is physically unable to do so — in fact, he has already taped multiple shows since announcing his diagnosis back on March 6.
Jeopardy! has been such a staple on everyone’s television for what seems like forever, it’s one of the few shows that is truly family friendly, something you can watch with literally anyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a sports fan or something in between, the show caters to everybody with their wide variety of categories. And a huge part of the Jeopardy! experience was hearing the voice of Trebek read out clue after clue.
It is safe to say that Trebek will be receiving the best treatment possible, and he should have every resource possible to help him fight the illness. Low odds aside, Trebek is 78 years old, and with or without a life threatening illness, it seemed that his time as host of Jeopardy! would be over shortly, as he has previously stated that he has contemplated retirement in the past.
It will be interesting to see what the future of the show holds; if they end up replacing Trebek, whomever the new host is would have massive shoes to fill, and he or she would have to know going into it that they’ll never live up to Trebek. Even if they do a terrific job, that association with Trebek has already been ingrained in everyone’s minds.
Jeopardy! put out a second video on Mar. 14 that featured Trebek thanking everyone for their support since the initial video. He humbly ended the video by saying, “I’m a lucky guy.” Here’s hoping he can beat the odds.