Alex Trebek has been a part of our lives for just about as long as we can remember… in fact, most millennials (and all post-millennials) have known him as the Jeopardy! host for their entire lives, since CNN says he’s had that gig since 1984. Or did have, or… actually, it’s a bit tricky to know what tense to use here, since although Mr. Trebek is gone, a New York Times culture reporter tweets that Jeopardy!‘s producers have stated their intent to continue airing the last episodes Trebek filmed up through December.
Trebek, possibly America’s favorite Canadian (although USA Today says he held U.S. citizenship for the past 22 years) will be sorely missed, but not just for his genial game show host persona, nor even for his ongoing support of charities via his Trebek Family Foundation (via Big Database). Where he made his last, but perhaps his greatest impact, was with the courageous way he faced up to his cancer diagnosis and even de-mystified his terminal disease by keeping all of us in the loop.
How Trebek spent his last days
Trebek received the diagnosis in March 2019, according to Decider, and somehow managed to continue working despite undergoing incredibly painful chemotherapy. While it seemed he was “on the mend” by last summer and released a short video (via YouTube) about how he was looking forward to season 36 and expected it was “going to be a good year,” none of us really got the year we expected and Trebek’s remission proved to be a short one. Trebek did make it through the season, however, continuing his treatment throughout the quarantine period, and releasing a July video (via Eyewitness News/ABC 7) saying, “My numbers are good; I’m feeling great,” as well as telling Good Morning America that he’d be undergoing an experimental new treatment as his final last stand in the battle he’d waged for over a year against his pancreatic cancer.
In his last days, Trebek kept working, filming Jeopardy! episodes up through October 29th. But on Sunday morning the show tweeted a heartbreaking update: “Jeopardy! is saddened to share that Alex Trebek passed away peacefully at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends. Thank you, Alex.” While we don’t like that final answer, still, we’re grateful for all the time we had with Mr. Trebek. But that last Jeopardy episode of his, set to air on December 25th, is one holiday present that will need to come wrapped in a few boxes of tissues.
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