Jeopardy host Alex Trebek took a moment out of his schedule to offer encouragement to Rep. John Lewis over a shared experience that he knows very well: the mindset to overcome pancreatic cancer.
“We’re starting a new year, and let’s see if we can’t both complete the year as pancreatic cancer survivors,” Trebek replied when asked what he would say to Lewis face-to-face. The Associated Press sat down with the host prior to the taping of Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time, which begins to air on Tuesday.
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Both men are 79 and share the support of fans and supporters in their respective fields, entertainment and politics.
Lewis announced his cancer diagnosis in late December via a statement on his congressional website.
“I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” Lewis wrote. “I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now.” The long-time Georgia congressman said that while he may be in treatment to beat the disease, the civil rights icon vowed to maintain his role as the representative for Georgia’s 5th Congressional District.
Trebek stunned viewers when he announced he was fighting pancreatic cancer in March of 2019. Since that time he’s remained as host of Jeopardy, a title he’s held since 1984. Trebek is widely known for his stoic appearance on the Jeopardy stage, but broke character during an emotional taping of the Tournament of Champions in November. The moment happened when contestant Dbruv Gaur wrote what many were feeling during his final Jeopardy response.
“I don’t want to get too mushy. I got mushy when young Dhruv wrote his final ‘Jeopardy!’ response, ‘We love you Alex! ‘That caught me by surprise, brought me to the edge of tears,” Trebek said in reference to that day.
Both Trebek and Lewis are widely loved, and while Lewis has stated he will not step down from serving in Congress, Trebek has been open to the idea of another host taking over. According to reports, Trebek has rehearsed his final Jeopardy appearance, though there has been no timeframe given on when that will be.
But social media, especially Black Twitter, has been very vocal about someone stepping into Trebek’s shoes. Trebek’s presence has been a crucial part of childhood for many millennials and the thought of him leaving, even if it is to take care of his health, seems like a new world order.
“It’s humbling to realize there are so many people out there who care enough about you to want to pray for you every day, who want to send you their best wishes,” Trebek said.
“I tell people all the time, ‘Hey, folks, the show’s not about me, it’s about the material and the contestants. Those are the two main items. And if they shine, if the material plays well, if the contestants do well, people will enjoy the show. If they enjoy the show, probably some of that enjoyment will rub off on their views of me, and they’ll like me too,” he continued.
“No matter who’s hosting it, ‘Jeopardy!’ will go on. It’s a quality program and it’s put together by very bright people. And when I move on, that doesn’t matter, “ he said. ”It’s the best kind of reality television, so it will endure.”
We’re wishing Trebek and Lewis a healthy 2020, along with the hope that their cancer will go into remission.