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Alex Trebek says he plans to stop cancer treatment if current course fails

The 79-year-old "Jeopardy!" host told The New York Times that potentially stopping his treatment for pancreatic cancer "doesn't bother me in the least."
/ Source: TODAY

Alex Trebek said he plans to stop treatment if his current course of treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is unsuccessful.

A day after the legendary host issued a video update saying he was "feeling great" and that his "numbers are good," The New York Times published an interview in which Trebek said that his prognosis has gotten worse in the last few months.

Alex Trebek says that if his current course of treatment for pancreatic cancer is not successful, he will not undergo any further treatment. Eric McCandless / ABC via Getty Images

"Yesterday morning my wife came to me and said, ‘How are you feeling?’ And I said, ‘I feel like I want to die.’ It was that bad,” Trebek said. “There comes a time where you have to make a decision as to whether you want to continue with such a low quality of life, or whether you want to just ease yourself into the next level. It doesn’t bother me in the least.'"

It wasn't clear when Trebek spoke to the Times.

The TV legend, who will turn 80 on July 22, has spoken openly about his mortality since being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in March of last year.

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"I’m not afraid of dying," he told Canada's CTV in October. "I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life … if it happens, why should I be afraid of it?

"One thing they’re not going to say at my funeral, as a part of a eulogy, is ‘He was taken from us too soon.’”

He has also opened up about enduring "attacks of great depression" and "moments of great pain" as he crossed the one-year mark from his cancer diagnosis in March. In addition, he's shared the obstacles he has faced in the past year, which have included losing his hair and struggling to enunciate.

Trebek's sobering comments to the Times came after he issued a more rosy statement in a video update on Thursday.

"I'm doing well, I've been continuing my treatment, and it is paying off, though it does fatigue me a great deal," he said. "My numbers are good, I'm feeling great."

Trebek is also looking back on his life and career in his new memoir, "The Answer Is… Reflections on My Life," which comes out July 21, a day before he turns 80. He is donating the advance he received for writing the book to charity.

The host of "Jeopardy!" since 1984 has also been taping introductions to 20 classic episodes that are scheduled to run in a four-week retrospective starting on Monday, as there are no new episodes being filmed due to the pandemic. Working on the show has had a therapeutic effect on Trebek since his diagnosis.

"Oddly enough, when we started taping I suddenly started to regain my strength,” he told the Times. “It’s the strangest thing. It is some kind of an elixir.”

Producers also recalled a day last year when Trebek was in so much pain he was sobbing on his dressing room floor, but got up and taped five episodes in a row.

He is focused on making a return in the fall as the show approaches its 37th year with him at the helm.

"Once again, I can't wait to return to the studio and start recording shows for the new season in September," he said in his video message. "Meanwhile, my wish for all of you, stay safe."