Christopher Brito – CBS News
Alex Trebek has suggested in a recent interview that his tenure as “Jeopardy!” host may be nearing an end as he battles pancreatic cancer. The 79-year-old, who has hosted the show for 36 seasons totaling nearly 8,000 episodes, told CTV his skills “have started to diminish.”
Trebek revealed earlier this year that he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Despite learning he was near remission in May, he needed to go for another round of chemotherapy in September –– right as the new season of Jeopardy! began. He admitted taping the show is becoming more difficult.
“I will keep doing it as long as my skills do not diminish, and they have started to diminish,” he told CTV.
In the interview, Trebek said he’s slurring his words and my tongue “doesn’t work as well as it used to.” Cold sores caused by the chemotherapy, he said, makes it difficult for him to speak and enunciate properly.
“I notice those things and I’m sure there are observant members of the television audience who notice also,” he said. “But they’re forgiving.”
His contract runs until 2020 and the decision to walk away from the game show will ultimately be up to him. He said support from the people around him have pushed him to keep on going, but knows he won’t be host forever.
“When I feel like my skills have diminished to the point I notice and bothered by it, I notice now, but I’m not as bothered by it because all of the people around me are saying, ‘No it’s okay.'” he said. “But there will come a point when they will no longer able to say, ‘It’s okay.'”
Trebek said he also regretted taking his pancreatic cancer fight public because he’s become a spokesman of sorts for people fighting the disease. “A lot of people are coming to me and looking for help, reassurance — and that’s tough,” he said. “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 American Cancer Society puts the survival rate over five years for all forms pancreatic cancer at 9%, according to its latest data. Even with those odds, Trebek is more than happy of how he has lived his life.
“The thought of the pancreatic cancer does not frighten me,” he said. “I’m 79 years old. So, hey, I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life. I know that.”