Alex Trebek cancer battle: 'Jeopardy!' host opens up about 'deep, deep sadness,' drawing inspiration from others

NEW YORK -- Since sharing his cancer diagnosis with the world, Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has had his share of ups and downs.

"My oncologist tells me I'm doing well even though I don't always feel it," he said.

He explained that he has dealt with pain in the past but that the emotional toll of being a cancer patient has been a different kind of struggle.

"What I'm not used to dealing with is these surges that come on suddenly of deep, deep sadness and it brings tears to my eyes," he said. "I've discovered in this whole episode, ladies and gentlemen, that I'm a bit of a wuss and -- but I'm fighting through it."

In his month-long battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Trebek said he's received messages from thousands of well wishers. Trebek said the most important thing he has learned about himself recently is that he is a "lucky individual," despite his prognosis.

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"I have managed to receive so much love from so many people, and quite often you don't get that during your lifetime," he said. "After you're passed, after you're dead people say, 'Oh, he was such a good guy. We really liked him,' but I'm getting that all before that event, so it makes me feel really, really good. "

Trebek said the chemotherapy treatments have made him physically weak but he is taking it with a positive attitude because he has to.

"I just take it as it comes. It's no big deal," he said. "I go in and I sit down and joke with the nurses, and I'm there for an hour and a half while they inject all this stuff into me, and then I go home and I have a good day, and then the next day for no reason that I can fathom, it turns south on me, but that's okay."

Trebek said he draws inspiration to keep fighting from other cancer survivors.

"I've had so many contacts from people who have survived cancer for ten years, 12 years, 14 years," he said. "I am now a 30-day cancer survivor. I'm going to catch up to those other people. But they have been an inspiration to me and that's really what it's all about."

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Meanwhile, Trebek also reflected on the impressive run of James Holzhauer. The popular contestant, whose episodes are currently airing, has earned the nickname "Jeopardy! James" as he climbs the ranks in every category of the show's Hall of Fame.

"He has forced me to change a view that I've held for many years, which is that the Ken Jennings record would never be broken," Trebek said.

Trebek pointed out that Jennings' record of winning 74 games in a row would be an especially impressive feat to beat. Julia Collins holds the second place spot for most consecutive games won, with 20. Trebek said he thinks Holzhauer has the potential to close the gap.

"He knows how to play the game, as Ken did. He has a strategy," he said.

Trebek said he's thankful for the timing of his diagnosis, which was around the end of taping for the season that's currently airing, so he's had a chance to focus on his health.

Trebek, who holds the Guinness World Record for Most Game Show Episodes Hosted by the Same Presenter, said he hopes to return to film a 36th season in the fall.

"We are dealing with it chemically and spiritually, and those are positives," he said, "and hopefully everything is going to turn out well and I'll be back on the air with original programming come this September."
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