Longtime "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek, who announced on March 6 last year that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, offered well-wishers a nearly two-minute video Wednesday with an update on his progress.
"If you've got a minute, I'd like to bring you up-to-date on my health situation," the 79-year-old TV icon said in the video on the game show's YouTube channel. "The one-year survival rate for Stage 4 pancreatic cancer patients is 18 percent," he said. "I'm very happy to report I have just reached that marker. Now, I'd be lying if I said the journey had been an easy one. There were some good days but a lot of not-so-good days. I joke with friends that the cancer won't kill me — the chemo treatments will."
Trebek acknowledged, "There were moments of great pain, days where certain bodily functions no longer functioned and sudden massive attacks of great depression … made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on."
But, he added, "I brushed that aside quickly, because that would have been a massive betrayal … of my wife and soul mate, Jean, who has given her all to help me survive." His wife of nearly 30 years is the Huntington-raised Jean Currivan Trebek, a graduate of Harborfields High School. "It would have been a betrayal of other cancer patients who have looked to me as an inspiration and a cheerleader of sorts of the value of living and hope," he continued. "And it certainly would have been a betrayal of my faith in God and the millions of prayers that have been said on my behalf."
Trebek concluded by saying his oncologist "tried to cheer me up the other day. He said, 'Alex, even though the two-year survival rate is only 7 percent,' he was certain than one year from now the two of us would be sitting in his office celebrating my second anniversary of survival. And you know something? … If we take it just one day at a time with a positive attitude, anything is possible. I'll keep you posted."
The source of Trebek's statistics for 1- and 2-year Stage 4 survival statistics was unclear. The American Cancer Society, the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, Johns Hopkins University, the Mayo Clinic and the National Cancer Institute give only 5-year survival rates on their websites. The NCI lists a 3% 5-year survival rate for Stage 4, in which the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. However, a study published in 2019, analyzing 6,775 patients between 2000 and 2014, found an 18% one-year survival rate for all stages combined.
Since making his diagnosis public, Trebek has become an advocate for research and awareness of the disease. On Oct. 30, the World Pancreatic Cancer Coalition released a public-service announcement he filmed, listing symptoms of the illness.