Jeopardy's Alex Trebek Gives One-Year Cancer Update

Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek first announced his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March 2019. Trebek, who was 78 at the time, revealed his diagnosis because it's his "longtime policy" of "being open" with fans. "I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease," he said in a video message to viewers. And a few months later in May 2019, the Canadian-American shared with People that he had gone into remission and his tumor was shrinking at a "mind-boggling" pace. However, Trebek's good fortune changed for the worse when in August 2019 he decided to switch from chemotherapy to immunotherapy, a type of "treatment that uses certain parts of a person's immune system to fight" diseases, per American Cancer Society. "I lost about 12 pounds in a week and my numbers went sky high — much higher than they were when I was first diagnosed, so the doctors have decided that I have to undergo chemo again," he explained during an appearance on Good Morning America in September 2019.

Now that a year has passed since Trebek first announced his diagnosis, he's continuing his open-door policy by speaking out on his current state of health. So how is the game show host doing? We reveal the news below.

Alex Trebek is doing better than ever

Understandably, fans were worried about Alex Trebek after he announced his health setback in August 2019. Now supports can breathe a sigh of relief, as Trebek revealed on March 4, 2020, that his prognosis is on an upswing. "The one-year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is 18%," he said in a video message shared via Jeopardy's Twitter account. "I'm very happy to report I have just reached that marker." This is a major accomplishment, especially considering the host's initial admission that the tumor had spread beyond his pancreas. 

The response to Trebek's update has been overwhelmingly positive. "We love you Alex!!" one person tweeted. "Thank you for being so open and honest about your journey." Someone else said, "Huge lump in my throat; I am praying for you, Alex! My husband is in the midst of the battle with Stage 4 metastatic melanoma, and you are most definitely an inspiration! Fight on, and we will pray on!"

We second all of the good wishes to Trebek, and if Best Game Show Host was a clue on Jeopardy!, we'd say, "Who is Alex Trebek." 

... but the battle to get there was tough

Although Alex Trebek kicked off his update with good news, he quickly transitioned into the stark realities of what it's like to fight terminal illness. "Now I'd be lying if I said the journey had been an easy one," he admitted in his video message. "There were some good days but a lot of not-so-good days. I joked with friends that the cancer won't kill me; the chemo treatments will." Trebek continued, "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 occasional actor credited his wife, Jean Currivan Trebek, for helping him "survive" when he felt drawn to defeat. "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," he said about wanting to give up at times. "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."

It's clear Trebek has an amazing partner in his corner, and we commend Jean for always being his rock.

Alex Trebek is saving lives

Pancreatic cancer is somewhat of a taboo subject, which is changing now thanks to the openness of Alex Trebek. This was made evident by Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which released a gushing statement to the media following the host's announcement. "We are extremely grateful to Trebek for his continued openness about his treatment journey and more importantly, his strength and resolve to fight for all who look to him for inspiration." It continued, "Throughout the past year, Trebek has transformed the conversation around pancreatic cancer and provided hope to people impacted by this disease."

The father-of-two will continue to be an advocate for pancreatic cancer patients, ending his video message, "If I, no if WE – because so many of us are in the same situation – if WE take it one day at a time with a positive attitude, anything is possible. I'll keep you posted."

As we wait for Trebek's next update, why not check out the untold truth of Alex Trebek's marriage.