"I want people to know a little more about the person they have been cheering on for the past year," the Jeopardy! star writes in his upcoming book

By Sam Gillette
April 14, 2020 12:53 PM
Advertisement
Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic

Even in the midst of his fight against stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Alex Trebek is finding ways to spread a message of hope.

On Tuesday, the Jeopardy! host announced that he’s written a memoir, The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life, which will be released by Simon & Schuster on July 21.

Trebek has been resisting requests that he write a memoir for decades. But after he announced his diagnosis in March 2019, Trebek was so moved by the letters and words of support he received that he decided to share his story.

“I want people to know a little more about the person they have been cheering on for the past year,” Trebek, 79, writes in his book, according to the publisher.

In The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life, Trebek shares personal anecdotes and reveals his thoughts on topics like marriage, fatherhood and spirituality. Inspired by the show that Trebek has hosted for more than 30 years, each chapter title takes the form of a question. Trebek also answers frequently-asked questions by Jeopardy! fans, like why he shaved his mustache and what he thinks about Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live impersonation. He also includes dozens of previously unpublished photos.

“Today, when there is so much uncertainty and turmoil in the world, Alex Trebek is a beacon of stability and positivity,” said Sean Manning, executive editor at Simon & Schuster, in a statement. “This wise, charming and inspiring book is further evidence why he has long been considered one of the most beloved and respected figures in entertainment.”

The host and his wife
Michael Kovac/Getty

Trebek — who shares adult children Emily, 26, and Matthew, 29, with wife Jean Currivan, 55 — first announced his cancer diagnosis last year. The news was especially frightening because pancreatic cancer, which affects the small glandular organ behind the stomach, is one of the most lethal types of the disease.

“When you hear problems with the pancreas, you think, ‘Oh dear, not that…. ‘” Trebek told PEOPLE in June 2019. But the longtime host was more worried about his family. “Mortality doesn’t worry me—except for the effect it has on those who care about me.”

Since he learned he was sick, Trebek has been determined to fight back. His first round of chemo resulted in his tumors shrinking by 50 percent, but later that summer his numbers were back up, and he underwent more chemotherapy. The treatment was draining and caused depression, Trebek explained.

“Sudden massive attacks of great depressions that made me wonder if it was really worth fighting on,” Trebek said in a video earlier this month, in which he celebrated his one-year survival milestone. (There’s an 18 percent one-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients.) “But I brushed that aside quickly, because that would have been a massive betrayal — a betrayal of my wife and soulmate Jean, who has helped me survive. 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.”

RELATED VIDEO: Alex Trebek’s Cancer Journey Eased By the Love of His Wife: ‘My Heart Goes Out to Caregivers’

Beyond his hopes for a full recovery, Trebek is also determined to bring more attention to the global fight against pancreatic cancer and raise money for research.

“Medicine is always coming up with new ways to deal with the different types of cancer,” he told PEOPLE last year. “The survival rate for pancreatic cancer 20 years ago was 4 percent. Now it’s up to 9 percent. We’re making progress, so we need to be hopeful. It doesn’t always have to end in death.”

Trebek wants to lift up others, and they’ve been doing the same for him. The star thinks that the overwhelming support he’s received has helped him beat the odds during treatment.

“I’ve had a couple million people out there who have expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy and their prayers. The doctors said it could very well be an important part of this,” Trebek explained. “You usually don’t hear about how you’ve affected people until you’re dead, and then you obviously really don’t hear it; your family does. They might think, ‘Gee, he was really liked and respected,’ but I’m hearing it while I’m alive. That’s been such a positive in my life.”