Jeopardy host Alex Trebek reveals pancreatic cancer diagnosis

Alex Trebek, in his first hosting job on CBC's Music Hop, circa 1963.

Well wishes continue to pour in on social media following Jeopardy host Alex Trebek’s revelation Wednesday that he has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

In a video posted to Jeopardy’s YouTube channel, Trebek, 78, revealed the diagnosis came just this week. The Sudbury, ON native says while the prognosis is normally not encouraging, “I’m going to fight this and I’m going to keep working, and with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.”

“Truth told, I have to, because under the terms of my contract I have to host Jeopardy for three more years,” Trebek joked.

Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage because it tends not to show early symptoms. Stage 4 means the cancer has spread to other organs, typically the liver or lungs.

Trebek has helmed Jeopardy since 1984 and hosted more than 7,000 episodes of the enduring quiz show, holding the Guinness World Record for “the most gameshow episodes hosted by the same presenter (same program).” He’s the winner of five Daytime Emmy Awards and received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 2011. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2017.

Even before his graduation from the University of Ottawa, where he finished a philosophy degree in 1961, Trebek was interested in broadcast news and started working nights at the CBC. He would eventually read the national news and cover special events for both radio and TV, including curling. His first turn as a host was on the show Music Hop in 1963, essentially the Canadian version of American Bandstand. He went on to host high school quiz show Reach for the Top, a weekly skating program, and Canadian game show Strategy

In 1973, he moved to the U.S, working for NBC as host of The Wizard of Odds, High Rollers, CBS game show Double Dare, and syndicated series The $128,000 Question,  which taped in Toronto, among other shows. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998.

Trebek posing for the cameras at his Canada Walk of Fame induction in 2006.

Trebek’s donations to his alma mater, the University of Ottawa, have totalled more than $7.5 million, including a $5 million donation in 2016 that funded the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue “to expose students to a wide range of diverse views, through speeches, public panels, events and lectures by University of Ottawa researchers, senior government officials and guests speakers from around the world.” Since 2017, Trebek has also funded the Alex Trebek Leadership Award, an annual $10,000 scholarship to a summa cum laude graduate who has also demonstrated community leadership. The university’s Alumni Hall bears his name.

Trebek’s revelation garnered thousands of messages of support for the host on social media that included Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, and comedian Mark Critch of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, among many others.

 

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