By Sydney Bucksbaum
January 08, 2020 at 04:47 PM EST
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Alex Trebek hasn’t wavered from his trademark optimism throughout his battle with pancreatic cancer.

While addressing journalists at the Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday, the longtime Jeopardy! host, who has been open about his cancer diagnosis and treatments, gave an update on his health.  “Some days are better than others,” Trebek says. “My resistance is lower than most of yours of course because of the treatments I’ve been having, the chemotherapy. As you can tell, I have the cold that seems to be going around. This is the second time I’ve had it in the past month. They’ve got me off one of my chemo drugs which was killing me. I won’t know until tomorrow, I go in for some tests and then maybe another week or so I’ll find out where things stand. But I’ve had good days and bad days.”

Trebek’s skin was visibly darker, and he revealed a makeup artist came to his house earlier that morning for touch ups. “You guys can’t believe how dark my skin is becoming from my treatments,” he says. He’s also noticed himself being “slower in the ad libbed portions” of the Greatest of All Time prime-time event. “I feel that I was not having one of my best weeks,” he adds. “Some weeks are good and some weeks are bad but hey, it comes with the territory.”


However, Trebek doesn’t feel his hosting duties have been affected to the point where he’ll have to step down from Jeopardy! anytime soon. “For some reason I can suck it up when Johnny introduces me,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how I’ve been been feeling before that moment in my dressing room, backstage — it’s just showtime… What’s not to enjoy about something like that?”

But he knows that the moment when he signs off from Jeopardy! for the final time is coming. “I don’t have to work on [my goodbye] at all,” Trebek says. “I made this decision a long time ago, that what I’d do, it would be the same as when I shaved my mustache, I did it on a whim, on that particular day, I will speak to [longtime Jeopardy! executive producer] Harry [Friedman] and I will speak to Clay [Jacobsen] our director and tell him, ‘Give me 30 seconds at the end of the program that’s all I need to say goodbye.’ That’s going to be the last show.”

When that time does come for him to retire from hosting Jeopardy!, he jokes that he’ll “drink” and “work around the house.”

“Keep in mind I’m 79 now. I don’t foresee that 30 second moment coming up in the near future,” he says. “When you’ve been in the same job for that long of period of time and you’re in advanced years, it behooves you to think at some point of retiring. Now thinking about retiring and retiring are two different things. Someone asked me if I had thought about retiring… I had given some thought to retiring, I’m not sure how it’s going to work out. We’ll see what happens. As long as I feel my skills have not diminished too much and as long as I’m enjoying spending time with the right people… then I’ll continue doing it. That’s the answer I can give you.”

Trebek was joined by Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer — the highest money winners in the quiz show’s history — who are currently competing in The Greatest of All Time tournament, and he revealed the three iconic contestants are “all wearing pancreatic cancer purple ribbons.”

“They’re doing it because they’re here today, maybe as a tribute to me,” he says. “I was touched by that.”

And after noting how “extremely lucky” he’s been in his career, he looked back on his legacy. “I hope I’ve been an influence for good and the influence of the benefits of not minimizing the importance of knowledge in one’s life,” Trebek says. “The benefits of knowledge — even though you are not going to use a particular bit of information that you acquire, it becomes part of you and it enriches you and makes you a better human being and I think a more understanding human being. The more you know, the easier it will be to understand everything else that’s going on in the world. If you have limited knowledge, you’re approaching other people from a limited point of view and that can be disastrous as we’ve discovered.”

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