His journey with cancer hasn’t always been easy, he said. In his interview with GMA, Trebek said he has sometimes been in “excruciating pain” and often suffers from fatigue. Mentally, he admits to sometimes feeling a “surge of sadness” and “depression.”
For now, Trebek credits the warmth and support of fans for any inroads he’s made against the cancer.
“I’ve got a couple million people out there who have expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy directed towards me and their prayers,” he told People in May. “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.”
Because it is so often symptomless until it reaches an advanced stage, pancreatic cancer has a high fatality rate. According to the American Cancer Society, about 57,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease in 2019, and the illness is expected to claim nearly 46,000 lives.
In addition, pancreatic tumors are particularly aggressive “due to a mutational profile that makes it resistant to therapies that work better for other tumor types,” explained Dr. Angela Alistar. She directs gastrointestinal medical oncology at Morristown Medical Center, in Morristown, N.J.
Trebek is philosophical about his chances, and said death doesn’t frighten him.
“I’m not afraid of dying,” the 79-year-old told CTV. “I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life — if it happens, why should I be afraid of that? One thing they’re not going to say at my funeral, as a part of a eulogy, is ‘He was taken from us too soon.'”
Born in 1940 in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, Trebek initially was a TV journalist before hosting a Canadian quiz show, “Reach for the Top.” That led to being hired to host U.S. game shows such as NBC’s “The Wizard of Odds” in 1973 and “The $128,000 Question,” before moving to “Jeopardy!” a decade later.
He’s been a spokesperson for charities such as World Vision and Smile Train, and has entertained troops on numerous USO tours.
Trebek married twice — to Elaine Callei in 1974 (the marriage lasted seven years) and then to Jean Currivan in 1990, with whom he had two children, Emily and Matthew.