Alex Trebek of ‘Jeopardy’ Opens Up About Cancer and Depression

The longtime host of the game show Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek, announced in March 2019 he had stage four pancreatic cancer. He has since opened up about his diagnosis and his battle with depression.

Alex Trebek’s cancer diagnosis announcement

In a video Jeopardy! shared on Twitter, Trebek announced he had cancer and showed he had humor in the face of a life-threatening, often fatal, type of cancer, by joking about his contract. Here’s what Trebek said in the video:

“Just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Now, normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but 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 [continue hosting] because under the terms of my contract, I have to host ‘Jeopardy’ for three more years. So, help me. Keep the faith, and we’ll win. We’ll get it done.”

Depression a result of chemotherapy for Trebek

During an appearance on Good Morning America, Trebek talked about experiencing depression after chemotherapy sessions. “My oncologist tells me I am doing well, even though I don’t always feel it,” Trebek told interviewer Robin Roberts.

Robin Roberts interviewing Alex Trebek on 'Good Morning America.'
Alex Trebek discusses his cancer diagnosis with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Wednesday, May 1, airing on the Walt Disney Television Network. | Paula Lobo/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

He is ‘used to dealing with pain’ not ‘deep, deep sadness’

Trebek told Roberts he’s used to pain. “I have had kidney stones, I have had ruptured disks, so I am used to dealing with pain,” he said.

What he’s not used to dealing with is depression. “But what I am not used to dealing with is these surges that come on suddenly of deep, deep sadness. And it brings tears to my eyes.”

He went on to say he felt depressed following chemotherapy sessions, especially the day after. Trebek also told Roberts he’s scheduled for another round of chemotherapy after which he would “see where things stand.”

Alex Trebek on the set of 'Jeopardy' in 2012.
Alex Trebek speaks during a rehearsal before a taping of Jeopardy! Power Players Week at DAR Constitution Hall on April 21, 2012, in Washington, DC. | Kris Connor/Getty Images

Bringing awareness to chemotherapy and what it does to the body and mind, Trebek said it’s OK to feel depressed and not know why. “Chemo affects people in different ways, and people have to understand that,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with saying, ‘Hey, I am really depressed today and I have no idea why. Why am I crying today?’”

Trebek on cancer and depression: ‘I just take it as it comes’

Dealing with chemotherapy and the depression that comes after, Trebek has a surprisingly relaxed attitude.

“I just take it as it comes,” he said. “It is no big deal. I go in and I sit down, I joke with the nurses and I am there for an hour and a half while they inject all this stuff into me. Then I go home and I have a good day. Then the next day for no reason that I can fathom, it turns south on me. But that’s O.K.”

Jeopardy! has been hosted by Trebek since 1984. The longtime host has 34 seasons of the game show under his belt and is currently working on Season 35.