What is Stage Four?

“The thing to note about Stage Four,” said Christopher Hitchens, “is that there is no Stage Five.”

Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy! v2.0 since its debut in 1984 (Art Fleming did the 1.0 version through the 1960s and 1970s), isn’t going to let Stage Four get him down:

“Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” he said. “Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working.

“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,” he said.

He then joked that he has to keep working due to contractual obligations.

“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.”

It’s hard to imagine Trebek not working. For that matter, it’s hard for Trebek to imagine Trebek not working:

In 2018, while being interviewed by Harvey Levin on Fox News, Trebek floated the idea of retirement, saying the odds of him leaving Jeopardy! in 2020 were 50/50 “and a little less”. He added that he might continue if he is “not making too many mistakes” but would make an “intelligent decision” as to when he should give up the emcee role. However, in October that year, he signed a new contract to continue as host through 2022.

He’d had a few health issues before, but heck, the man is 78 years old. In the meantime, I’m guessing he’ll take Thoughts and Prayers for $1000.


  1. Roger O Green »

    7 March 2019 · 6:28 am

    One of the funerals I attended recently was a guy who was diagnosed in November 2018 and died in January 2019.
    BTW, I’ve met Alex Trebek back in 1998. He’s pretty smart, even though he has the questions in front of him. .

  2. The Other McCain »

    7 March 2019 · 7:58 am

    In The Mailbox: 03.06.19

    [..] Dustbury: What is Stage Four? [..]

  3. fillyjonk »

    7 March 2019 · 3:10 pm

    This one’s gotten to me more than some other pop cultural illnesses or even deaths (Even more than Luke Perry, who was a mere 2 years my senior, but I guess I never really watched 90210). I think it’s because Trebek was just “always there” when I was a young adult: you could switch on the tv at random times, and there was “Jeopardy,” and I found it more enjoyable than some other game shows…

    Also, someone on Twitter commented that he was kind of the last Cronkite figure – not flashy, but authoritative and sort of measured in his delivery. (Yes, even in the sick burns he occasionally delivered).

    I hope he beats it. Too many of the figures familiar from my youth are gone, and it’s increasingly discombobulating. I mean, I guess you have to expect that if you live long enough, but it’s not something I was expecting, and not something I”m adjusting all that well to.

  4. CGHill »

    7 March 2019 · 6:44 pm

    Come on, Roger. You’ve played the game. For real. Perhaps the best possible way to meet Mt Trebek.

    (Cronkite? Well, maybe. Certainly avuncular anchormen are nearing extinction.)

  5. fillyjonk »

    7 March 2019 · 8:33 pm

    I’m going to be bereft when all the avuncular media figures have been replaced by the haircuts-masquerading-as-men who secretly want to make the news all about *them*. And I don’t even really remember watching Cronkite.

  6. “Here’s the host of JEOPARDY!, Alex Trebek!” | Ramblin' with Roger »

    27 March 2019 · 9:58 am

    […] Some arithmetic guy, and others, have asked me to write about Alex Trebek, in light of his recent diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. […]

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