“I don’t mind getting choked up. My oncologist told me one of the symptoms, if you will, of pancreatic cancer is that you get these moments of depression, sadness,” he explained.
The longtime television host first announced he was battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March via a YouTube video.
He said he realized something was wrong and called his doctor after he began to experience severe stomach pain.
“I knew as soon as the doctor came back and mentioned the pancreas. I said, ‘Uh-oh, it’s going to be cancer,’” Trebek explained to Strahan.
His wife of 29 years, Jean Trebek, was the first person he told about the diagnosis. She said in the interview that it’s difficult to see her husband “in pain and I can’t help him.”
Alex Trebek’s cancer went into remission several months ago, but he was forced to undergo another round of chemotherapy after a health downturn over the summer.
Still, he continues to work around his house on construction projects and on TV. Next month he’ll host Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time tournament, beginning January 7.
Despite his busy schedule, Trebek said he remains realistic about his health.
“I have learned something in the past year and it’s this: We don’t know when we’re going to die,” he said. “Because of the cancer diagnosis, it’s no longer an open-ended life, it’s a closed-ended life because of the terrible … survival rates of pancreatic cancer. Because of that, and something else that is operating here, people all over America and abroad have decided they want to let me know now, while I’m alive, about the impact that I’ve been having on their existence.”
ABC’s interview and special titled What Is Jeopardy? Alex Trebek and America’s Most Popular Quiz Show, airs on Thursday, Jan. 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC