Alex Trebek Says He's Had "Attacks of Great Depression" During One-Year Health Update

Laura Hanrahan
Photo credit: Eric McCandless

From Woman's Day

Beloved Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek gave fans an update on his health on Wednesday, exactly one year after he was initially diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Trebek posted a video clip on the official Jeopardy! Twitter account explaining what he's gone through in the past year, which not surprisingly included plenty of ups and downs.

"The one year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is 18%," Trebek said. "I'm very happy to report that I've just reached that marker. Now I'd be lying if I said that the journey had been an easy one. There were some good days, but a lot of not-so-good days. I joked with some friends that the cancer won't kill me, the chemo treatments will. There were moments of great pain. Days when certain bodily functions no longer functioned, and sudden massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on."

Trebek, who has continued to host the game show all throughout his treatment — which included hosting the recent Greatest of All Time tournament — said that he didn't let those negative thoughts of giving up get him down for too long and fought to push past them.

"I brushed that aside quickly because that would have been a massive betrayal, a betrayal of my wife and soulmate, Jean, who has given her all to help me survive," Trebek said. "It would have been a betrayal of other cancer patients who have looked to me as an inspiration, and a cheerleader of sorts of the value of living and hope. And it would certainly have been a betrayal of my faith in God and the millions of prayers that have been said on my behalf."

Despite his tough and hard-fought journey — and the very low multi-year survival rates of stage 4 pancreatic cancer — Trebek seemed to be in good spirits and is hopeful about what's yet to come.

"You know, my oncologist tried to cheer me up the other day, he said 'Alex, even though the two-year survival rate is only 7%' he was certain that one year from now the two of us would be sitting in his office celebrating my second anniversary of survival," Trebek recalled. "And you know something, if I, no, if we — because so many of us are involved in the same situation — if we take it just one day at a time, with a positive attitude, anything is possible.

And with that, Trebek signed off with a simple "I'll keep you posted."

The post was met with an outpouring of support and well-wishes from fans offering their prayers as well as their own stories of cancer survival.

Trebek has not yet said when he plans to take a step back from hosting Jeopardy!. And in January said at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that he didn't "foresee that coming up in the near future." He has said he will continue on until his skills diminish too much, and has already rehearsed his final Jeopardy! send off.

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