By Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek says if his current treatment for Stage 4 pancreatic cancer doesn’t work, he’ll probably stop pursuing medical intervention.
In his touching new memoir, “The Answer Is…Reflections on My Life,” the Sudbury, Ont.-raised TV personality writes that “quality of life was an important consideration” in the decision.
The seven-time Emmy Award winner says he and his wife, Jean Currivan, and their two children had “a good cry” when he told them.
Trebek adds he’s “lived a good, full life,” knows he’s nearing the end of it, and is “not afraid of dying.”
The 79-year-old, who lives in Los Angeles and turns 80 on Wednesday, announced his cancer diagnosis in March 2019 and has continued to work on “Jeopardy!” throughout his treatment.
His new memoir looks back on his life and career, and gives up-to-date reflections on his health, the world, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ever-poised quiz-show legend has kept viewers updated on his cancer treatment with social-media videos in which he’s often on the “Jeopardy!” set wearing a suit and speaking in a positive tone.
But in the book he admits there are moments when he regrets going public with his diagnosis, noting he feels “a lot of pressure to always be tough.”
Trebek, who is usually private about his personal life, writes about his vulnerable moments and the toll cancer has taken on his body.
He says there are days when he’s been “a basket case” before taping.
But as soon as he gets onstage, “it all changes suddenly. I’m myself again. I feel good,” he writes.
“No matter how I feel before the show, when I get out there it’s all forgotten because there’s a show to be done. Work to do.”
Trebek writes about getting his affairs in order and talking to his doctor about hospice care.
As for retirement, he says he knows there will come a time when he won’t be able to host as well as the job demands.
“Whenever it gets to that point, I’ll walk away,” he writes.
“The Answer Is…Reflections on My Life” (Simon & Schuster) also has photos of Trebek as it runs down his upbringing with his younger sister Barbara and parents George Edward Terebeychuk and Lucille Lagace.
His father was a Ukrainian immigrant and chef at a hotel, and his French-Canadian mother tended the house and spent about a year and a half in a sanatorium being treated for tuberculosis. They eventually separated.
During and after his philosophy studies at the University of Ottawa, Trebek started announcing and hosting for CBC radio and TV, on programs including “Music Hop” and the quiz show “Reach for the Top.”
He eventually moved to Los Angeles, landing many hosting gigs on game shows including “The Wizard of Odds,” “High Rollers” and “Battlestars.”
Trebek made his debut as “Jeopardy!” host in 1984 and has become a mainstay for weekday family viewing and a beloved figure in pop-culture, inspiring several impersonations of him that he addresses in the book.
“Jeopardy!” fans will delight in Trebek’s reflections on his favourite moments and contestants on the show, and his thoughts on whether certain strategies help in winning.
Trebek also peppers the chapters with salty language, offering fun tidbits on his famous moustache and “expensive hairpiece.”
Each chapter title begins with “What Is…” in a nod to the “Jeopardy!” format, in which clues are presented in the form of answers and contestants have to say their guess in the form of a question.
The final chapter breaks from the format with: “The Answer Is…Life.”
Trebek writes he’d like to be “remembered first of all as a good and loving husband and father,” and for helping people perform at their best.
“Because that was my job. That is what a host is supposed to do.”