I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
Alex Trebek, GOAT
Alex Trebek, Canadian Icon And Hero
Upon receiving the news earlier today, November 8, 2020, that Alex Trebek had died, I felt as though I'd been punched in the gut.
I spent a good chunk of my formative years watching Trebek on Jeopardy!, and when I had the opportunity to sit and watch the show as an adult, I realized just how much I still enjoyed the show. I also had a chance to watch him back when he was on Classic Concentration as well, and he took Classic Concentration just as seriously as he did Jeopardy! He was also charming, calm, and reassuring; the sort of cool but relatable professional that you couldn't help but be drawn to.
Over the last few years, I'd watched him via social media, and if there was any sort of news about the man, I was on it. That was why, in March 2019, I was stunned to learn about his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Alex Trebek was sick? I had to have misread something; this was a man who'd gone through two heart attacks, blood clots on the brain, and full knee replacement surgery. Heck, he'd even chased a burglar out of his house, causing his Achilles tendon to snap! Pancreatic cancer seemed improbable for the stalwart game show host, and yet, he took the time via the Jeopardy! Twitter feed to post a video where he directly addressed his fans with the sad news.
However, there was nothing sad in how he confronted the illness - at least how he seemed to in the public eye. He was forthright about the challenges that lay ahead, he sounded hopeful and appreciative of the support he received thus far, and kept working even though he had every right to want to stay home and chill out with his wife. He was even up front about struggling with depression stemming from his cancer treatments, instead of trying to keep smiling through everything.
I hate cancer with every fiber of my being. It killed my mother, who died six days after my daughter was born, killed my friend's husband, is affecting my friend's grandson, who is currently undergoing treatment, and affected my friend's son a few years ago, although happily, he's healthy and active with cancer long since in his rear view.
Trebek had a very healthy perspective - at least, one that he presented to the public - about the realities of having cancer at 79. He acknowledged that in reality, he's lived a very full life and has no regrets, and it's a perspective that I really hope that I have when that time comes for me.
What also is very striking for me is that Trebek filmed Jeopardy! straight until Oct. 29, 2020. I can only hope that up until that point, Trebek was feeling well and like he was still capable of doing what he's done for over 35 years. There aren't too many individuals who would even consider continuing to work when facing the potential end of their lives, especially when considering how hard on the body cancer treatment typically is. Generally, many individuals undergoing treatment would at the very least take a medical leave, yet this is not something that Trebek did. This could very well be due to the fact that his shooting schedule for Jeopardy! was such that he could have time to rest and recover between treatments and taping, but still, there are many seniors - and as youthful as Trebek seemed, he was still a senior - who wouldn't even question the necessity to stay home during treatment with work not even being a consideration. As has been widely reported by the news, this was not something that Trebek did, so it's very possible that work was something that nourished him as much as food and water might have during his health crisis.
I'm proud to say Trebek was Canadian; he's a part of the national fabric, to be sure. What I hope will be most memorable about him, though, is that by many accounts, he was a decent man who was well-loved by not just his wife and family, but his legion of friends and his fans. Let's not even worry about whether Jeopardy! will even continue, but let's focus on the good he tried to bring.
He will be missed, to be sure.