Cancer patients and survivors are still coming forward with new stories about how Jeopardy host Alex Trebek inspired them during their fight. Trebek passed away from pancreatic cancer in November of 2020, but his positive attitude during his treatment is still having ripple effects to this day. On NBC’s Inspiring America special this weekend, former Jeopardy champion Jason Idalski discussed his own battle with acuteactue leukemia.
Idalski won $36,000 on Jeopardy in 2013, years before either he or Trebek were diagnosed with cancer. This weekend, explained that he began to feel ill just three days after Trebek passed away. He was diagnosed with acute leukemia and was thrown into the fight fast. He spoke to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie and Trebek’s widow Jean from a hospital bed but revealed that he is now in remission.
“Alex inspired me by the way he dealt with his cancer,” he said. “There were so many times when he must’ve been so sick but he never let on, never missed a step. He taught me, you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it then change your attitude.”
Jean confirmed that this positive projection was no accident by her husband. She said: “One of Alex’s gifts was that he could be very resolute and know that the truth will not hurt you. He wanted to empower people to move through whatever challenge they had in life with a sense of inner strength, inner dignity and love.”
Jean and Trebek were honored during the TV special on Saturday, along with other inspiring people including actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, chef Jose Andres and NBA coach Becky Hammon. Trebek’s impact on the community of cancer patients and cancer survivors around the world has already been well-documented — back in November, Survivor Net reported on “The Trebek Effect,” where the public suddenly took an increased interest in pancreatic cancer testing, care and research.
Trebek announced his cancer diagnosis in March of 2019, and from the start it was dire. He was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and put straight into chemotherapy, continuing to film Jeopardy all the while. He passed away in the fall at the age of 80, but his legacy has only grown in stature since then.