“I have learned something in the past year and it’s this: We don’t know when we’re going to die,” Trebek said recently

By Sean Neumann
January 07, 2020 02:21 PM
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Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is sending well wishes to lawmaker and civil rights icon John Lewis who, like Trebek, is being treated for cancer.

“We’re starting a new year, and let’s see if we can’t both complete the year as pancreatic cancer survivors,” Trebek said when he was asked what he’d tell Rep. Lewis, according to the Associated Press.

Trebek and Lewis — both 79 — each have stage IV pancreatic cancer. Trebek announced his diagnosis early last year while Lewis made his bout with the disease public in late December.

“I have learned something in the past year and it’s this: We don’t know when we’re going to die,” Trebek told Good Morning America‘s Michael Strahan earlier this month. “Because of the cancer diagnosis, it’s no longer an open-ended life, it’s a closed-ended life because of the terrible … survival rates of pancreatic cancer.”

RELATED: Alex Trebek on How He Wants His Final Episode of Jeopardy! to End: I’ve ‘Rehearsed It Already’

Both men have been public with their health struggles, drawing support from fans and friends across the world. In late December, former President Barack Obama offered his support for Lewis with a statement on social media.

“If there’s one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, it’s his incomparable will to fight,” Obama tweeted. “I know he’s got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend.”

Lewis has said he’s “clear-eyed” about the cancer diagnosis but was optimistic about new treatment options for what was once thought to be an incurable form of the disease.

“I have a fighting chance,” he said in a statement in December.

The longtime Georgia congressman was a leading voice in the civil rights movement, speaking at the 1963 March on Washington and marching in Selma, Alabama.

Alex Trebek (left) and Rep. John Lewis
| Credit: Paul Morigi/Getty (2)

“We still have many bridges to cross,” Lewis said in his statement announcing his illness, adding, “I will return to Washington in coming days to continue our work and begin my treatment plan, which will occur over the next several weeks. I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon.”

Trebek recently said there may come a time when the longtime game show host may not be able to do the show. He said he’s already planned his final remarks.

“I’ve kind of, in my mind, rehearsed it already, and what I would do on that day is tell the director, ‘Time the show down to leave me 30 seconds at the end. That’s all I want,’ ” Trebek said last week, adding that he’d hope to say, “‘And until we meet again, God bless you and goodbye.’ “