‘Jeopardy!’: Alex Trebek’s Wife Jean Says Hosting Show Helped Keep Him Alive During Cancer Battle

by Halle Ames

Alex Trebek’s wife, Jean, reveals that her husband’s role on Jeopardy! is what helped keep him alive while battling cancer. 

The beloved game show host, Alex Trebek, was an inspiration to fans, and apparently, the fans inspired him right back. 

Trebek was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer in March of 2019. He made the grim diagnosis public on March 6, however, he promised fans that he wasn’t giving up that easy. 

“Now, normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this.” 

And fight he did. Alex Trebek continued to host Jeopardy! while battling the disease. 

Unfortunately, in early November of 2020, after nearly an 18-month battle, Alex Trebek succumbed to the cancer. He was 80 years old and hosted Jeopardy for over 36 years. 

Alex Trebek’s Sense of “Purpose”

On Saturday, Jean Trebek, Alex’s wife since 1990, opened up to Savannah Guthrie as part of the NBC special “Inspiring America: The 2021 Inspiration List“. She noted the positive effect Jeopardy! fans had on her husband’s health. 

“Doing Jeopardy! really gave him a sense of purpose. A reason to wake up in the morning,” she revealed. “And I would say we all need that. 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.”

Alex Trebek knew that he couldn’t keep this a secret from his loyal fans. Jean says that he hoped to inspire those in need of encouragement. 

“His gift was that he could be very resolute, and he knew that the truth would not hurt you,” Jean explained. “And he wanted to, I think, empower people to move through whatever challenge they had in life with a sense of inner strength, inner dignity, and love.”

Jean was also overwhelmed with the support she received after her husband’s death. She says that Alex Trebek knew he had a fanbase, but nothing like on this “level.”

“I think he would have been shocked, honestly, and I think he knew he was loved and revered, but I don’t think to this level,” Jean Trebek explained. “I think that the support and the love that’s been shown since he passed has really been on another level. And I think he would have really appreciated it. I think he — I think it would mean a lot to him.”

Alex Trebek, you are so loved and missed by all.