Alex Trebek receives support from friend Vanna White during cancer battle: ‘We’re still the same family’
Vanna White is standing by her beloved friend Alex Trebek.
The “Jeopardy!” host revealed in March he had been diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer but intended to fight the disease and keep on working.
“Oh, I’ve been supporting him 100 percent,” White recently told Closer Weekly. “We’ve known each other for over 30 years, of course. And even though he’s on a different show, we’re still the same family so I’m there and supporting him and praying for him.”
The “Wheel of Fortune” hostess shared that the 78-year-old is determined to fight the devastating disease and win. White also insisted Trebek has been relying on humor to help him cope with his health woes.
“He’s hanging in there,” said the 62-year-old to the outlet. “He’s a strong man and he has got such a strong will to conquer this. [He’s] very good, very good. He’s funny, he keeps himself entertained and he entertains others with his humor."
Trebek previously shared in a video posted online that he was announcing his illness directly to fans in keeping with his long-time policy of being “open and transparent.” Trebek said he’s among 50,000 Americans who receive such a diagnosis each year.
VANNA WHITE EXPLAINS HOW SHE COPES WITH TOUGH TIMES
“[The] prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” Trebek announced at the time.
He lightened the difficult message with humor: Trebek said he must beat the odds because his contract requires he host the quiz show for three more years.
“So help me,” said Trebek. “Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done.”
The celebrated Canadian has been the host of the syndicated quiz show since 1984. He and his wife, Jean Currivan, have two children.
Trebek has gone online before to discuss his health. Back in January 2018, he posted a video announcing he’d undergone surgery for blood clots on the brain that followed a fall he’d taken. The show was on hiatus during his recovery.
ALEX TREBEK WAS 'WRITHING IN PAIN'
Among the first people to react to Trebek’s announcement was “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak. The two stars once swapped their TV jobs as an April’s Fool prank.
“There is no one I know who is stronger and more determined, and I would never bet against him,” Sajak, 72, wrote in a Twitter post at the time. “We, and the entire country, are pulling for you, Alex.”
Trebek recently told CBS Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley there have been some tough times while taping the game show.
“This got really bad,” he admitted. “I was on the floor writhing in pain. It went from a 3 to an 11. And I just couldn’t believe [it]. I didn’t know what was happening. And it happened three or four times a day while we were taping. So that was a little — little rough on me.”
Still, Trebek – who has been the host of "Jeopardy!" since 1984 – wanted to push through, despite one instance where he "barely" made it to his dressing room and ultimately "cried in pain" when he got there.
"I taped the show and then I made it to the dressing room on one occasion, just barely, before I writhed in pain and cried in pain," Trebek recalled. "And I had 15 minutes before the next show. So, I got myself together and spasms of that kind usually last about 10 to 15 minutes. So, all right, here we go again: 'Anybody got any pain pills?' And, I don't like taking pain pills. But I got through it."
"And, the producers were very kind. They said, 'Look, if you don't wanna do the show, we'll just cancel taping.' I said, 'No. We're here. We're doing the shows,'" he insisted.
Trebek – who said he found out he had cancer after seeing his doctor about a stomach pain, which tests revealed to be a lump "the size of a small fist" inside of his abdomen – also had to wear a hairpiece during production due to his treatment.
Now, he's challenging viewers to figure out whether or not it's his real hair when they see him on-air for season 36.
"And so what the challenge for 'Jeopardy!' viewers is right now is to figure out, 'Is that Alex's real hair or is that a full hairpiece?' Because they all know that when you start chemo, you lose your hair. So, which is it?"
ALEX TREBEK JOKES ABOUT 'SYMPATHY VOTES'
Trebek will soon have a break from his hosting duties and he says it's during this time he hopes he can grow his own hair back.
"We have the summer months off. So hopefully my own hair will grow back. 'Cause I like my own hair!”
Fox News’ Mariah Haas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.