After hosting “Jeopardy!” for more than 30 years, Alex Trebek is no stranger to the spotlight. Sometimes, however, the veteran game show host says he wishes he were out of that spotlight when it comes to addressing his pancreatic cancer.
“There are moments when I have some regrets about having gone public with it because … there’s a little too much of Alex Trebek out there, and I regret that,” he said in an interview with Canada’s CTV News last week. “To be the inspiration for a lot of other people makes me feel good, but it does place a responsibility on me that I feel I’m not deserving of.”
During the conversation, Trebek discussed his mental and emotional state following an unexpected setback in his treatment, as well as the physical trials and limitations the illness and medical procedures continue to inflict. Last month, for example, Turner Classic Movies confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Trebek would not be setting sail, as he usually does, on its annual TCM Classic Cruise, which this year begins Oct. 22.
“I LOVE sailing on the TCM Classic Movies Cruises, so I’m very disappointed that I will not be able to make the October sailing,” Trebek said in a message to cruise-goers obtained by The Times. “As you know, I’m battling pancreatic cancer, and the schedule for those treatments does not permit me to be away for that week. I hope you all enjoy the cruise, and that I will be able to join next year’s event.”
While speaking with CTV News, the TV star also shared an update on his treatment, which has switched from immunotherapy that “didn’t do diddly squat” back to chemotherapy, which had previously caused some of his tumors to shrink by “more than 50%.”
“It just kicked the slats out from under me, and I lost a lot of weight,” Trebek said. “So we’re back on the chemo, and we’ll see if the numbers go down. … We’ll play it by ear and just keep chunking along until we either win or lose.”
Though Trebek insisted he wasn’t afraid of dying, he did express concerns that side effects of the cancer might one day prevent him from hosting “Jeopardy!” For now, however, he said he could “suck it up when it’s time to film the show,” no matter how weak he may feel on the inside.
“I will keep doing it as long as my skills do not diminish, and they have started to diminish,” he said. “The chemo has caused sores inside my mouth. It makes it difficult for me to speak and enunciate properly. … I notice those things, and I’m sure there are observant members of the television audience who know this, also. But they’re forgiving.”