"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek reveals "mind-boggling" response to pancreatic cancer treatment

"Some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent," Trebek tells People magazine in a new interview

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published May 29, 2019 3:05PM (EDT)

Alex Trebek (Getty/Gregg DeGuire)
Alex Trebek (Getty/Gregg DeGuire)

Beloved "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek just revealed he has undergone a "mind-boggling" recovering from pancreatic cancer.

"It’s kind of mind-boggling," the 78-year-old game show host told People magazine. Additionally, he seems to be responding well to the chemotherapy.

"The doctors said they hadn’t seen this kind of positive result in their memory . . . some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent," Trebek told People.

Trebek said he also become emotional when he heard he was in remission, admitting he had experienced periods of deep sadness since his diagnosis earlier in the year.

"But they were tears of joy — not tears of depression," Trebek explained.

Trebek also offered thanks to his fans and supporters, since he believes their prayers and positive energy might have helped him on the road to recovery.

"I’ve got a couple million people out there who have expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy directed towards me and their prayers. I told the doctors, 'This has to be more than just the chemo.' And they agreed it could very well be an important part of this," Trebek told People.

"I’ve got a lot of love out there headed in my direction and a lot of prayer, and I will never, ever minimize the value of that," he added.

This is not Trebek's first health scare. During the 2017 holiday season, he underwent surgery to remove blood clots in his brain in the wake of a fall that occurred several months prior.

"Surgery was performed after two days in the hospital. I came home to start recovery. The prognosis is excellent, and I expect to be back in the studio taping more 'Jeopardy!' programs very, very soon," Trebek reassured his fans after that incident.

Trebek's current contract extends his duties as show host through 2022. He previously speculated he might retire in 2020 — a fact he alluded to when he first announced his cancer diagnosis in March.

Initially, Trebek told his audience that "now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging. But I'm going to fight this, and I'm going to keep working. And with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease."

He continued, "Truth told, I have to because under the terms of my contract, I have to host 'Jeopardy!' for three more years. So help me keep the faith, and we'll win. We'll get it done."

Born in Canada, Trebek has hosted "Jeopardy!" since 1984, when the show was revived after having been off the air for five years. During that time, his identity has become indelibly linked to that of the show itself, from his trademark mustache, which he later shaved, to his personable yet direct presentation style. Because he is now entering his 35th year hosting the game show, Trebek can also say he has hosted "Jeopardy!" for longer than many of its contestants have been alive.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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