“Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek sent a sweet message of support to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as both battle advanced-stage 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 told The Associated Press when asked what he would tell the Georgia Democrat.
Both men are 79 years old and resolute in fighting the aggressive disease.
Lewis, an activist and pivotal figure in the fight for civil rights, was showered with prayers and well-wishes after revealing his stage 4 diagnosis in late December. In announcing the sad news, the congressman said he remains hopeful and vowed to stay strong in the face of a “fight I have never faced.”
He made clear that he has no plans of letting the disease slow him down and said he’ll stay in office while he seeks treatment. Although Lewis is expected to miss a few upcoming votes, he said he’s hopeful that “with God’s grace, I’ll be back on the front lines soon.”
“So I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I’ve always done: I am going to fight and keep fighting for the Beloved Community,” he said in a message to his constituents, adding, “We still have many bridges to cross.”
Trebek also continued filming episodes of “Jeopardy” after going public with his diagnosis last March and has been transparent about his progress and setbacks. The Canada native, who has hosted the iconic game show for over 30 years now, was doing well initially but revealed he would have to undergo a second round of chemotherapy.
In a recent interview, Trebek, 79, said he has good days and bad days while seeking treatment for the life-threatening disease and recalled “struggling a bit” during last month’s taping of “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” prime time special featuring the show’s champions James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter.
The host also opened up about the toll of chemotherapy, revealing he has bouts of depression and that treatment sometimes leaves an otherwise sharp-witted Trebek foggy-brained and struggling to enunciate.
“I’m sure there are observant members of the television audience that notice also, but they’re forgiving,” he said last year. “But there will come a point when they [fans and producers] will no longer be able to say, ‘It’s OK.’”
The husband and father of two added that he “isn’t afraid of dying” and that he’s “lived a good life, a full life.”
Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., surpassing breast cancer, and has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers, according to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. Last year, an estimated 57,000 Americans were expected to be diagnosed with the disease.
Both Lewis and Trebek are clear-eyed about their prognoses but have vowed to stay strong and finish the fight.
“So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done,” Trebek said.
The “Jeopardy!” GOAT championship multi-day tournament begins airing on Tuesday night, Jan. 7, on ABC.