“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, who continues to work as he fights pancreatic cancer, said he doesn’t fear death and vowed to stay on the job “as long as my skills do not diminish.”
Trebek announced in March that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, but was still on stage in late July when the syndicated show began taping its fall season July 22.
When the inevitable comes, he insisted, he won’t be fearful.
“I’m not afraid of dying,” Trebek, 79, told CTV News over the weekend in Ottawa. “I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life … if it happens, why should I be afraid of that?”
Trebek even hit the fast-forward button to his memorial service, insisting no one will say he died tragically young.
“One thing they’re not going to say at my funeral, as a part of a eulogy, is ‘He was taken from us too soon,’” the TV legend told CTV’s chief anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme in an interview at his alma mater, the University of Ottawa.
Despite his generally upbeat view on his struggle, Trebek said he understands the doom and despair felt by countless other cancer patients.
It’s often difficult “trying to be as optimistic as you can when the other person feels none of that … they feel only despair,” he said. “And I don’t know if I was strong enough or intelligent enough to help alleviate that despair.”
Trebek, a native of Sudbury, Ontario, said chemotherapy has brought sores in his mouth that sometimes cause him to trip on words.
“I’m sure there are observant members of the television audience that notice also, but they’re forgiving,” he said. “But there will come a point when they will no longer be able to say, ‘It’s OK.'”
Trebek, who has hosted the show for 36 seasons with almost 8,000 episodes, said he’ll stick with the answer-and-question show “as long as my skills do not diminish.”
“There are weaknesses I feel in my body but I can always suck it up when it comes to tape the show,” he said.
The university announced Friday that the TV host has given $2.1 million for the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue, which seeks to “enrich and broaden public debate.”
“Democracy is at risk in many other countries of the world. Nationalism has come to the forefront,” Trebek said. “Democracy always seems to triumph. It doesn’t matter whether we have periods where we have dictators, oligarchs, whatever.”
Trebek said he’ll keep working and dealing with cancer for as long as possible.
“I’m hanging in,” the father of two said. “So we’re back on the chemo and we’ll see if the numbers go down. And if they do … they can’t keep doing it forever, of course.”