Alex Trebek talks to WREG about hosting ‘Jeopardy’ after cancer diagnosis

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LOS ANGELES — Answer: It’s the most watched TV game show with a very popular host.           

Question: What is “Jeopardy!” and who is Alex Trebek?

For many of you, watching “Jeopardy” and Alex Trebek are part of your daily routine before our news at 4, but why is the quiz show such a part of our lives?

WREG sent our own Alex Coleman to Los Angeles and to the set of “Jeopardy” to see what goes on behind the scenes and to talk one-on-one with the legendary Alex Trebek, talking about his devastating pancreatic cancer diagnosis and his hopes for the future.

The 79-year-old host has been the unruffled voice of authority quizzing contestants since the 1980s, but he took a few minutes to talk about being in the fight for his life and the words he now lives by today.

“Normally, the prognosis for this isn’t very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this,” Trebek said in a video statement to fans.

Five months later, he revealed he had finished his chemotherapy treatment and  his condition was improving. However, just one month later, Trebek had to undergo a second round of chemotherapy.

“You never know from one day to the next because, if it isn’t the chemotherapy, it’s the disease itself that affects you,” he said. “You’ll be feeling fine for half the day and all of a sudden a tremendous depression descends on you or you will suddenly start experiencing pain where you didn’t have it five minutes ago. And the pain moves.”

Trebek has been moved by the outpouring of support from fans and Jeopardy College Championship contestants like Ole Miss student Londyn Lorenz.

“You don’t have much of a choice. You deal with it,” Trebek said. “It’s something that God has sent and you have to face it to the best of your ability. And if you’re lucky, as I am, working in the public sphere, you get a lot of prayer and a lot of support of fans all over America.

“Wherever ‘Jeopardy’ is shown, I’ve heard from people in those communities, wishing me well, sending me prayers, sending me religious artifacts that can’t do anything but help.”

Trebek is also trying help others by not appearing not just on “Jeopardy,” but in PSAs to help raise awareness about the disease. He’s one of almost 57,000 Americans diagnosed every year with pancreatic cancer.

“I wish I had known sooner that the persistent stomach pain I experienced before my diagnosis was a symptom of pancreatic cancer,” he said.

As Trebek shares his emotional journey of hope and heartache — he’s now wearing a hair piece and having some trouble with his speech — he remains grateful for each day.

“Try to get the most out of each day of your life. Try to be a kind human being,” he said.

Trebek, an unintended ambassador for a deadly disease, now hopes that early detection will lead to better outcomes for others diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

That includes a member of Alex Coleman’s family battling a similar fate, who finds inspiration in Trebek’s journey and says the game show host is an inspiration to him and others.

Trebek says he’s been thinking of a final farewell to his fans and has mentally rehearsed it.        

He says when they day comes he’ll take about 30 seconds at the end of show to say his goodbye.

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