‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek Emotionally Explained Why it Was ‘Tough’ Helping Those Around Him with Cancer

by John Jamison

Late “Jeopardy!” icon Alex Trebek was a role model for countless people who suffered from cancer.

In his final year and a half, he inspired others to continue fighting their diseases. He was candid about his own diagnosis and brave in his pursuit of treatment. But empowering as it was for him to help people in this way, setting that kind of an example was a burden, too. After all, the longtime “Jeopardy!” host had his own fight to contend with, and he wasn’t equipped to help everyone.

Fans will remember the incredible moment when Alex Trebek informed his “Jeopardy!” audience of his cancer diagnosis.

Not for a second did Alex Trebek give the slightest hint of resigning himself to the fate his prognosis said was waiting for him. This demonstration of courage in the face of overwhelming odds led to countless people looking to him for guidance.

In a 2019 interview with CTV, Trebek talked about the difficulties of being in such a position.

“What I’ve discovered is, not only have I become the de facto flag carrier for it. A lot of people are coming to me and looking for help, reassurance, and that’s tough,” he said.

He described a woman, 10 years his younger, who had recently received a similar cancer diagnosis to his own. She wasn’t taking the news very well. And Trebek said that he tried to cheer her up as best he could.

“It’s tough sometimes, trying to be as optimistic as you can when the other person feels none of that optimism, feels only despair,” he continued. “And I don’t know if I’m strong enough or intelligent enough to help alleviate some of that despair. So it’s tough on me.”

The ‘Jeopardy!’ Legend Continued Working in the Face of His Cancer

The “Jeopardy” icon didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk. After he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Alex Trebek continued to host the long-running game show. And it very well may have kept him going.

According to his wife, being able to work on “Jeopardy!” was instrumental for Alex as he fought his cancer.

“Doing Jeopardy! really gave him a sense of purpose. A reason to wake up in the morning. And I would say we all need that,” Jean Trebek told Savannah Guthrie during an NBC special. “We all need a purpose. I think I knew his life was going to, on Earth here, would wrap up quickly when he could no longer do the show. But he wanted to finish strong. And he did. And he lived life on his own terms.”