‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek Delights Game Show Fan With a Phone Call
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek took time out of his busy day recently to make one fan’s day – by calling them, thanks to the fan’s determined mom. He told Canadian news network CTV recently that what keeps him going lately in the midst of his battle with pancreatic cancer is “to make a difference in the lives of people.”
He certainly did that for one devoted fan. Here’s what we know.
Trebek’s journey with illness
Trebek was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March of this year. He entered treatment and his body responded tremendously well to the chemotherapy. So well, in fact, that his doctors announced that the beloved game show host seemed to be beating the disease that normally has a very low survival rate.
“The doctors said they hadn’t seen this kind of positive result in their memory — some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent,” he told People in May.
However, Trebek suffered a setback by end of summer when his “numbers went sky-high” and he had lost a tremendous amount of weight, he told Canadian news network CTV last month. “Then all of a sudden, it blew up and went 50 percent higher than when it was first diagnosed. Go figure.”
“I’m hanging in,” Trebek continued. “So we’re back on the chemo and we’ll see if the numbers go down. And if they do … they can’t keep doing it forever, of course.”
Trebek’s response to a determined mom
Trebek reached out to a die-hard superfan in mid-October by phone.
When Jeopardy! superfan Michael Kneeter, who has high-functioning autism and epilepsy, learned of Trebek’s cancer diagnosis, he was devastated, according to his mother Debbie Stevens, a pulmonary fibrosis survivor.
Stevens tracked down Trebek’s son, who owns a Manhattan restaurant and let him know it would “thrill my son” if he could speak with Alex Trebek to wish him well. Stevens tenaciously followed the call up with a certified get-well card, this time kindly requesting that Alex Trebek connect with them.
Trebek called but since the family was not available, left a voice message. “I just wanted to thank you for [being in touch],” Trebek said on his voice message. “…maybe someday, if you manage to get to Los Angeles, you could come to a taping of the program. Hopefully, I’ll still be around hosting it. OK. You take care.”
Distraught that she had missed the important call, Stevens called Trebek’s son again, who told her to stay by the phone. This time, she and Kneeter, 32, didn’t miss the call. “It wasn’t rushed,” Stevens said of the call. “He was really concerned and caring for Michael.”
The call lasted almost ten minutes with both Kneeter and his mother telling Trebek to get better and that they love him.
Trebek fights to survive and to make a difference
Trebek’s determination to beat cancer is apparent simply in his showing up to the set of Jeopardy! no matter how he’s feeling. It’s an incredible determination of his work ethic.
In speaking with CNN about his phone call with Kneeter, it’s clear it was as much of a delight for him as it was for Kneeter.
“I get these kinds of calls quite often now, where somebody who has special needs feels that they would be helped by talking to me, and it’s no great imposition on me, to tell you the truth.”
“If I’m in a position to do it, I do. They’re looking for some kind of reassurance I think, and if I can provide that I’m happy to do it. The message I try to get across to all of them is, let’s agree to be survivors against whatever ailment is afflicting us.”