On Wednesday, the beloved, witty, sometimes hilariously caustic host of Jeopardy! Alex Trebek announced he had been diagnosed with a serious form of cancer in a short YouTube announcement posted to the show's official account.
"Just like 50,000 people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer," Trebek said.
The 78-year-old has hosted Jeopardy! since 1984 and become an unlikely cultural icon, an almost universally beloved symbol of trivia-based authority who has been featured in a David Foster Wallace short story and a series of sketches on Saturday Night Live. He chose to address fans through Youtube to avoid misinformation, he said, and to remain "open and transparent with our Jeopardy! fanbase!"
"Normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I'm going to fight this, and I'm going to keep working," Trebek said. "And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease."
According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate across pancreatic cancer stages (categorized as local, regional, and distant) is 9 percent. A stage four diagnosis means that the cancer has spread to other organs.
Trebek closed his address to the public with his classic warmth and wit, saying: "Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host 'Jeopardy!' for three more years! So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done."
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