Alex Trebek said he would "be lost" is he ever retired from Jeopardy!

By Gillian Telling and Christina Dugan
March 06, 2019 06:20 PM
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Two months prior to being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Alex Trebek opened up to PEOPLE about his retirement plans.

“They’ve been wondering [if I’m going to retire] for years,” the longtime Jeopardy! host said. “Somebody asked me once, ‘Have you given any thought to retiring?’ This was about seven, eight years ago. And I said, ‘Yes I have.’ Well, all of a sudden, Trebek is retiring. No. He has thought about retirement!”

He continued, “You get to a certain age, and if you’ve been doing the same show for 30 years, or the same job, whatever it is, for 30 years, wouldn’t you think about retirement? What am I gonna do? I’m enjoying myself and I’m having a good time with what I’m doing now, but if I were to retire, what would I do? I’d be lost. My wife would say I’m getting on her nerves because I’m around all the time. I’m around most of the time anyway now except for two days.”

In a video message on Wednesday, Trebek announced the news of his diagnosis.

“Hi everyone, I have some news to share with all of you. And it’s in keeping with my longtime policy of being open and transparent with our Jeopardy fanbase. I also wanted to prevent you from reading or hearing some overblown or inaccurate reports regarding my health,” began Trebek, 78.

He continued, “So therefore, I wanted to be the one to pass along this information. Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.”

Trebek, who has now hosted Jeopardy! for 35 years, vowed to courageously “fight” the disease and also continue working on the game show.

“Now normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this and I’m going to keep working,” he continued.

“And with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease,” continued Trebek.

He shares two children — Matthew, 29, a restaurateur in Manhattan who owns Oso (a popular Mexican restaurant in North Harlem), and Emily, 27, who works in real estate in Los Angeles — with his wife of 29 years, Jean Currivan.

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Despite the grave diagnosis, Trebek quipped that he must continue working because of the terms of his contract through the 2021-22 season.

“Truth told, I have to because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years!” he joked. “So help me! Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done.”