Alex Trebek Is Preparing for the Worst If Cancer Treatment Fails
Alex Trebek is opening up about his experimental cancer treatment. In an interview with Good Morning America, the 79-year-old Jeopardy! host revealed that if his current immunotherapy treatment fails, he won’t “go to any extraordinary measures to ensure my survival.”
Although the treatment for Trebek’s stage four pancreatic cancer is going so well that doctors consider him “a bit of an anomaly” and they expect him to celebrate two years of survivorship in February, the TV personality made the decision in preparation for a worst case scenario.
That decision was one that wasn’t made lightly and one that he said was “tough” to explain to his wife, Jean, and their two children, Matthew, 30, and Emily, 27.
“The handled it beautifully,” he said. “They understand that there is a certain element regarding quality of life. And if the quality of life is not there — it’s hard sometimes to push and just say, ‘Well, I’m gonna keep going even though I’m miserable.'”
Trebek also worries about being “a terrible burden” to his wife, who he’s been married to for 30 years.
“There was one day a few weeks ago when Jeanie asked me in the morning, ‘How do you feel?’ And I said, ‘I feel like I wanna die.’ It was that bad,” he said. “I apologize to her and explain that it has nothing to do with my love for her or my feelings for her. It just has to do with the fact that I feel like I’m a terrible burden to her. And that bothers me tremendously.”
“She’s a saint,” Trebek added. “She has so much goodness in her that she is always giving out, always putting out to help me get over difficult moments. And there have been some difficult moments. I’m just in awe of the way she handles it.”
Despite his “tough moments,” Trebek said he is able to power through the pain when it comes time to host Jeopardy!, which he plans to keep doing as long as he’s “around.”
“I’m good at faking it. There have been tough moments. And I don’t know what it is, but when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. Let’s do it. Get out there, suck it up, make it happen,” he said. “It’s something that I can’t explain intellectually. At a gut level, without even thinking about it, it just happens. I suddenly wake up and I’m able to perform and handle the show because I like it. It’s a good job.”
With the positive numbers coming during his current treatment, Trebek hasn’t gotten his affairs in order just yet.
“I’ve said to myself, ‘Hey, you — you better start getting your affairs in order.’ And I know exactly what I need to do, but I have yet to do it,” he said. “So there’s something in the back of my mind that says, ‘Woah, hold on a second, host, breathe. Maybe you’re gonna be around for a little while longer.’ And that would be so nice.”
Trebek’s memoir, The Answer Is… Reflections on My Life, is out Tuesday, July 21.
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