The longtime host sat down for an interview with “Good Morning America” Monday to promote his upcoming memoir “The Answer is…: Reflections on My Life.” During the interview, he spoke candidly about both his treatment as well as his desire to get back to work on the show, which had its production halted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It sure as hell would be nice to get back to work,” the host, who turns 80 this week, said. “I miss it. It's been part of my life, a very important part of my life for 36 years.”
However, in light of his diagnosis and ongoing treatment, questions have been raised as to how long Trebek can continue to host the popular game show. Fortunately for fans, he explained that he has every intention of working for as long as he reasonably can.
“It’s something that I can’t explain intellectually. At a gut level, without even thinking about it, it just happens, I suddenly wake up and I’m able to perform and handle the show,” he explained. “Because I like it… it’s a good job.”
Elsewhere in the interview, he added: “My doctor has told me that he is counting on me, celebrating two years of survivorship past the diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and that two years happens in February. So I expect to be around because he said, I will be around and I expect to be hosting the show if I am around.”
Although Trebek says his doctors have told him he’s “going in the right direction” with his health he previously told The New York Times that he doesn’t plan to continue treatment if his latest round of chemotherapy fails. Speaking to “GMA,” he explained that the experience has been very taxing on both him and his family, leading to concerns about his “quality of life.”
“There was one day a few weeks ago when Jeannie asked me in the morning, how do you feel? And I said, 'I feel like I want to die.' It was that bad,” he confessed.
When host T.J. Holmes asked how Trebek’s wife of more than three decades responded to that, he notes that he immediately apologized.
“I apologize to her and explain that it has nothing to do with my love for her or my feelings for her,” he said. “It just has to do with the fact that I feel like I'm a terrible burden to her. And that bothers me tremendously.”
Getting choked up, he continued: “She says you're not a burden. She's a saint, but she has so much goodness in her that she is always giving out. Always putting out to help me get over difficult moments. And there have been some difficult moments. And I… I'm just in awe of the way she handles it.”
As for the rest of his family, Trebek said that the conversation about potentially stopping treatment was difficult to have.
“They understand that there is a certain element regarding quality of life and if the quality of life is not there, it’s hard sometimes to push and just say, ‘well, I’m going to keep going even though I’m miserable,’” he explained.
Trebek has been wildly candid about his treatment since announcing the diagnosis in March of 2019. The journey thus far has been comprised of several highs and lows, with the host bracing fans for a potential situation in which he’s unable to continue as the host of “Jeopardy!”
“There have been tough moments and I don't know what it is. But when it's time to go, it's time to go. Let's do it. Get out there. Suck it up. Make it happen,” he shared on “GMA.”