Alex Trebek was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer earlier in the year, and although his treatments have been successful, his symptoms may end his 35-year Jeopardy! career.
Trebek, 79, has been hosting the show for 36 seasons, which amounts to nearly 8,000 episodes. He previously reported in May that he was close to remission, but he recently needed to undergo another round of chemotherapy treatments. He always said he would remain hosting the gameshow as long as his skills were in tact, but unfortunately, he told CTV that his skills “have started to diminish.”
Specifically, Trebek reports he has difficulty with his speech, as his words sometimes slur and his tongue “doesn’t work as well as it used to.” Some of these issues stem from the chemotherapy treatments themselves, as they cause cold sores that impact his speech.
Most people won’t notice Trebek’s speech troubles, he says, but he is well aware of them and believes observant audience members are as well.
Trebek’s contract with the show ends in 2020. If he decides to leave, it will be up to him. He has had endless support from those around him to keep on going, but he’s aware that he can’t continue on the show indefinitely.
As of right now, he will wait until his troubles on the show are more noticeable before he leaves.
Trebek went public with his pancreatic cancer fight and has since become a kind of “spokesman” for those battling the disease. He says he actually wishes he kept it private, as he doesn’t feel qualified to be an “expert” on the topic. He reports that it’s been difficult when people come to him for help or support.
According to the American Cancer Society, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just above 9%. But this doesn’t trouble Trebek. “The thought of the pancreatic cancer does not frighten me,” he said. “I’m 79 years old. So, hey, I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life. I know that.”