Alex Trebek sat down with The New York Times to discuss his current state of mind, the future of Jeopardy!, and how he plans to move forward with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
The 79-year-old said that he plans to stop treatment if his current round of chemo isn’t successful. “Yesterday morning my wife Jean came to me and said, ‘How are you feeling?’ And I said, ‘I feel like I want to die.’ It was that bad,” he said. “There comes a time where you have to make a decision as to whether you want to continue with such a low quality of life, or whether you want to just ease yourself into the next level. It doesn’t bother me in the least.”
But he also said that working on Jeopardy! has renewed his determination to live. He’s been working on the show since 1984. “Oddly enough, when we started taping I suddenly started to regain my strength,” he said, after noting that he could hardly get out of bed in the morning. “It’s the strangest thing. It is some kind of an elixir.”
New tapings aren’t happening now amid the COVID shutdown, but Trebek has been recording new show openings for upcoming special episodes that will start airing today (Monday). Trebek also told the Times that if his strength falters, he’ll step back: “It’s a quality program, and I think I do a good job hosting it, and when I start slipping, I’ll stop hosting,” he said.
Trebek said that he sees a place for Jeopardy! in an increasingly confusing world: “There’s a certain comfort that comes from knowing a fact. The sun is up in the sky. There’s nothing you can say that’s going to change that. You can’t say, ‘The sun’s not up there, there’s no sky.’ There is reality, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting reality. It’s when you try to distort reality, to maneuver it into accommodating your particular point of view, your particular bigotry, your particular whatever — that’s when you run into problems.”
His autobiography, The Answer Is …, is due out July 21st.