It’s no secret that the world has been a hot mess lately. Between the spread of fascism, the coronavirus, our rapidly-warming earth, and Bojack Horseman ending, it’s easy to wonder why we’re still even bothering to get out of bed at all. So I’d like to share with all of you one very good thing that brightened my week: Jeopardy host Alex Trebek was diagnosed with cancer one year ago—and he’s still here with us.
Trebek made this announcement himself in a video shared on the Jeopardy Twitter account this Wednesday.
“The one-year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer patients is 18%. I am very happy to report I have just reached that marker.”
In the video, Trebek speaks about the ups and downs of the past year with the calm frankness that viewers have come to expect from him—but also with a streak of optimism.
“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 joked with friends that the cancer won’t kill me, the chemo treatments will.
There were moments of great pain, days when certain bodily functions no longer functioned, and sudden, massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on. But I brushed that aside quickly because that would have been a massive betrayal—a betrayal of my wife and soul mate Jean who has given her all to help me survive.
It would’ve 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. And it certainly would’ve been a betrayal of my faith in God, and the millions of prayers that have been said on my behalf.”
“You know my oncologist tried to cheer me up the other day. He said ‘Alex, even though the two-year survival rate is only 7%’ he was certain that 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 I, no, if we—because so many of us are involved this same situation—if we take it just one day at a time, with a positive attitude, anything is possible.
I’ll keep you posted.”
Alex Trebek’s continued positivity and openness in the face of this diagnosis would be inspiring coming from anyone, but it is especially resonant to hear from him. I’m far from the first person to express this sentiment, but I’ve always found there to be something soothing about Trebek’s voice. Perhaps it’s just the consistency of its presence. Trebek has been hosting Jeopardy since 1984, meaning that he’s been on millions of televisions across the country hosting the same show, with basically the same structure, for over thirty years. Countless kids have grown up watching Jeopardy every day, countless adults have watched it religiously for most of their lives.
With its predictable sounds and regimented format, Jeopardy is the type of show that can so easily fit in as part of a daily routine. Even though almost none of my friends have cable, I know several people who still watch it regularly on Hulu, or who even just have it playing in the background while they do other things. To them, the tenor of Trebek’s voice has become a soundtrack of sorts. And sure it’s corny, but in this time of growing instability, it is surprisingly comforting to know that you can turn on the television and hear a voice that is both familiar and calming.
Alex Trebek is still here—a good thing indeed.