Man behind Jeopardy shares his courage with cancer diagnosis


Alex Trebek is the host for television’s top game show, Jeopardy, but currently, his life outside the show has been making nationwide news. On March 6, 2019, Trebek publicly announced that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer on Jeopardy’s YouTube account. He revealed in an interview the magnitude of his situation. “They’ve got me off one of my chemo drugs, which was killing me, and I won’t know until tomorrow when I go in for some tests, and then maybe a week or so when I know how things stand. I have good days and bad days,” Trebek said. 

His announcement shocked many people because of his secrecy on the matter. Several Marian girls who are a fan of Jeopardy expressed their surprise. “I was sorry to hear that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer because he has been working on the show for many years, and it is disappointing to hear when someone you know is diagnosed with health issues of that magnitude,” freshman Lauren Young said.  

Several Marian girls watch Jeopardy. “My favorite part of Jeopardy is when a contestant keeps winning for a long period of time because it’s cool to see how much money they get in the end,” sophomore Jordan Moser said. 

“I like answering the questions at home, because if I get it right, it makes me feel accomplished. I watch it with my family at dinner, and we occasionally fight about some of the questions,” freshman Brynn Ullerich said.  

When he revealed his state of health, he also revealed he had known for more than a year. His form of cancer is extremely deadly. Statistically, only 7 percent of those diagnosed live for 5 additional years, and only 2 percent of those diagnosed survive for 10 or more years.

 “I usually watch Jeopardy with my brother and my mom; when we found out that Alex Trebek has cancer we were both really upset. It’s just sad to see such a wholesome person sick. But he’s still killing it; he still does the show and puts up a good face for himself,” senior Abigail Reynolds said.

Trebek had all of America as a support system, and his health has since improved. In August of 2019, Trebek underwent a successful round of chemotherapy. He expresses his battle between the good and bad days he endures. He also hinted at the fact he sees changes in his hosting, and may feel like he’s moving a bit slower than before. 

Despite all of that, he doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon. Trebek said he wishes to continue hosting Jeopardy despite his condition. “I don’t foresee that 30-second [goodbye] moment coming up in the near future,” Trebek said in an interview for ABC News. 

Jeopardy is hard to imagine without Trebek’s presence. Junior Jessica Brusnahan agreed, “I do think Jeopardy will be different without him, I’ve watched for so long with my family and I can’t imagine the atmosphere with some other host.” 

“I can’t imagine how somebody else’s face on Jeopardy other than his. No one has his voice and he’s basically the voice of Jeopardy,” Ullerich said.

His current contract with Jeopardy will go through 2022. Trebek sees his illness not as something that impairs him, but something that makes him stronger. In an interview with ABC News, Trebek said, “I just look at it as it’s a part of life. Does that mean I’m courageous because I’m dealing with it? No. I could be scared to death, and I’d still have to deal with it. But I’m not scared to death. So, maybe I am courageous.”

Meeting Mr. Trebek • Ms. Susie Sisson stands beside Alex Trebek during a game in 2005. During the commercial break, Sisson got the chance to take a picture alongside Trebek and received a Jeopardy picture frame. Photo courtesy of Ms. Susie Sisson.

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