The longtime Jeopardy! game show host, who is undergoing an experimental immunotherapy treatment following his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis, writes that he has decided to cease all treatment should his current protocol fail.
“I’m going to stick with this current protocol, then that’s it. If it doesn’t work I’ll probably stop treatment,” Trebek writes.
He reveals that after telling his family, they all “had a good cry” but he’s content with his choice. “I’m not afraid of dying,” he writes. “It wasn’t an easy conversation, and it isn’t any easier writing these words. Quality of life was an important consideration.”
Trebek went on to explain that he’s proud he’s lived a “good, full life” at 80 years old and has accomplished many things. “One thing they’re not going to say at my funeral as part of the eulogy is, ‘He was taken from us too soon,'” he writes. “I’m about to turn 80. I’ve lived a good, full life, and I’m nearing the end of it. I know that. The only thing that might bother me is if I pass on before I get to have grandchildren. (Hint, hint.)”
He also noted that if he were in his 20s with “years ahead” of him, he may “feel differently.” He adds, “But when you’re about to turn 80, it’s not like you’re missing out on a great many things.”
Should his time come, Trebek simply says: “when death happens, it happens. … Why should I be afraid of it? Now, if it involves physical suffering, I might be afraid of that. But, according to my doctor, that’s what hospice is for. They want to make it as easy as it can possibly be for you to transition into whatever future you happen to believe in.”
Though having hosted Jeopardy! since 1984, Trebek shared that he hopes his legacy is centered on how he was with his family. “I’d like to be remembered first of all as a good and loving husband and father, and also as a decent man who did his best to help people perform at their best.” He adds, “If that’s the way I’m remembered, I’m perfectly happy with that.”
He also goes on to say that he has no problem staying at home amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Here I am wanting to enjoy what might be the last of my days, and, what, I’m supposed to just stay at home and sit in a chair and stare into space?” he writes, before explaining why “that doesn’t sound too bad.”
“I’ll be perfectly content if that’s how my story ends: sitting on the swing with the woman I love, my soul mate, and our two wonderful children nearby.” Trebek and his wife, Jean, have been married for 30 years. They share two children.
As for the future of Jeopardy!, Trebek is confident that the show will be “just fine.” He writes, “There are other hosts out there who can do equally as good a job as me. I think Jeopardy! can go on forever.”
Despite making an emotional decision, Trebek admitted he’s received some positive news and is “going in the right direction” while speaking on Good Morning America on Monday. He shared that his cancer indicator numbers have dropped from 35,000 to under 100 in just eight weeks. “The doctors have said they have never seen a chart like mine because there are peaks,” Trebek said. “I said, ‘‘What do you mean — you don’t see that often? What do you usually see?’ They usually see it going up. I’m a bit of an anomaly.”
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Trebek further clarified his original comments in which he stated that he would stop treatment. In a post, the Jeopardy! host explained that he wrote the comment in his book prior to his current regimen and, at the time of writing, he was going through “some bad times … My current numbers are very good, but we will have to be patient with this new immunotherapy program that I am on. But if it were to stop being successful, I would return to my previous chemo treatment — NOT stop all treatment. I apologize for any confusion, and want everyone to know that I am optimistic about my current plan, and thank them for their concerns.”
Apart from his cancer treatment, in his new memoir Trebek also details personal, comical anecdotes such as his encounter with Queen Elizabeth II (she didn’t remember him after their first meeting); eating “four or five” hash brownies at a party, unaware that they contained drugs; growing and shaving his iconic mustache; coaching his kids’ sports teams alongside actor Bryan Cranston; and notes that his favorite Trebek impersonation is that of Schitt’s Creek star Eugene Levy, who portrayed him on Canada’s version of Saturday Night Live.
The Answer Is …: Reflections on My Life is available now.
July 22, 1:25 p.m. Updated with Trebek’s Twitter post.