Alex Trebek revealed his cancer diagnosis on March 6 and returned to work on Jeopardy! six days later
On Thursday, just two days after Trebek returned to the Jeopardy! set for his first day back on the job, the game show host, 78, shared a video message to his fans and supporters thanking them for their well wishes during this trying time.
“Hi everyone, I just wanna take a few moments to say thanks to the — believe it or not — hundreds of thousands of people who have sent in tweets, texts, emails, cards, and letters wishing me well following my recent health announcement,” he began in the clip shared on Twitter.
“I’ve heard from former contestants — even Watson, the IBM computer sent me a get well card!” he revealed.
“Now obviously, I won’t be able to respond to all of you individually but I did want you to know that I do read everything I receive and I am thankful for the kind words, the prayers, and the advice you have offered, and I’m extremely touched by the warmth you have expressed in your comments to me,” Trebek continued.
To wrap up his heartfelt message, Trebek simply stated: “I’m a lucky guy.”
Along with the video, the tweet was captioned: “Thank you.”
“The outpouring of good wishes and support in response to Alex’s recent health news has been humbling and overwhelming,” they wrote on March 8. “Please know that your messages are being conveyed to him and are deeply appreciated. From everyone at Jeopardy! – thank you.”
“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.
“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,” he continued.
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.
He also asked his fans to lift up prayers on his behalf. “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.
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,” he concluded, “We’ll get it done. Thank you.”
Following the news, Trebek received an outpour of support from fellow celebrities including his longtime friend and Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak, Chris Harrison, Meghan McCain, and Disney CEO Bob Iger.
“The Sajak family is deeply saddened to hear of Alex Trebek’s struggle with cancer. Our hearts go out to him and his family,” Sajak, whose program currently follows Trebek’s on television, wrote on Twitter.
“But there is no one I know who is stronger and more determined, and I would never bet against him,” added Sajak, 72. “We, and the entire country, are pulling for you, Alex.”
Trebek 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.
Two months before revealing his serious health news, Trebek opened up to PEOPLE about his retirement plans.
“They’ve been wondering [if I’m going to retire] for years,” the longtime 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!”
Admittedly, Trebek said he’d be “lost” without the show.
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,” he joked. “I’m around most of the time anyway now except for two days.”