Just a week after returning to host Jeopardy!’s 36th season, Alex Trebek has revealed that he needs another round of chemotherapy to fight his stage 4 pancreatic cancer after his ‘numbers went sky high’.
Last Monday, Trebek returned to the nation’s television screens for the premiere of Jeopardy! after completing months of chemotherapy.
But during a Good Morning America interview Tuesday morning, the host said he must undergo more treatment.
Trebek said his numbers were ‘much higher than they were when I was first diagnosed so the doctors have decided that I have to undergo chemo again and that’s what I’m doing’.
‘I’ve had one hell of a good life and I’ve enjoyed it and the thought of passing on doesn’t frighten me,’ the 79-year-old added.
Just a week after returning to Jeopardy!’s 36th season, Alex Trebek has revealed that he is undergoing chemotherapy again for his stage 4 pancreatic cancer after his ‘numbers went sky high’
‘I’ve had one hell of a good life and I’ve enjoyed it and the thought of passing on doesn’t frighten me,’ the 79-year-old added
The host said he was ‘doing so well and my numbers went down to the equivalent of a normal human being who does not have pancreatic cancer, so we were all very optimistic and they said, “good, we’re going to stop chemo and start you on immunotherapy” and [I] lost about 12 pounds in a week and my numbers went sky high’.
Last week, Trebek welcomed viewers to the show, saying: ‘I’m happy to report, I’m still here.’
In August, he revealed that he had finished his chemotherapy treatment and was doing better just seven months after he announced that he had cancer.
‘I’ve gone through a lot of chemotherapy. Thankfully, that is now over. I’m on the mend and that’s all I can hope for right now,’ Trebek said last month.
Earlier this year, Trebek promised viewers that he would continue to fight the disease while hosting the show.
He also credits the support from his millions of fans with helping him throughout his fight.
The beloved Jeopardy! host was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March
Trebek credits the support from his millions of fans with helping his incredible recovery
‘I’ve got a couple million people out there who have expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy directed towards me and their prayers,’ he said at the time.
‘I told the doctors, this has to be more than just the chemo, and they agreed it could very well be an important part of this.
‘I’ve got a lot of love out there headed in my direction and a lot of prayer, and I will never ever minimize the value of that.’
Trebek revealed that he became emotional after hearing he was nearing remission in May. ‘But they were tears of joy,’ he said. ‘Not tears of depression.’
The host has been candid about the emotional and physical pain he has suffered throughout his cancer battle.
He revealed in April during a particularly grueling period of treatment that there would be days where he was hit with stomach cramps so excruciating they left him crying in pain in his dressing room.
‘This got really bad,’ he told CBS Sunday Morning’s Jane Pauley. ‘I was on the floor writhing in pain. It went from a three to an 11. And I just couldn’t believe it, I didn’t know what was happening.’
But Trebek said he would ask the crew for painkillers and soldier on, refusing to cancel any episodes.
Trebek (left, with his wife Jean in 2014) has been candid about the emotional and physical pain he has suffered throughout his cancer battle
Aside from his millions of fans, Trebek has the support of his family: son Matthew (far left), daughter Nicky (second left), daughter Emily (center) and wife Jean (second right)
‘I got through it,’ he said. ‘And the producers were very kind. They said, “Look, if you don’t wanna do the show, we’ll just cancel taping”. I said, “No. We’re here. We’re doing the show.”‘
In another interview with Good Morning America around the same time, Trebek revealed there were days when the cancer left him feeling a ‘deep, deep sadness’.
PANCREATIC CANCER TREATMENT
by Mia de Graaf, US Health Editor
Pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed in its later stages, because symptoms are rare early on.
Alex Trebek, like most others, was diagnosed in stage 4.
Three percent of people with stage 4 pancreatic cancer survive five years after their diagnosis.
But Trebek says, against the odds, his tumors have shrunk 50% since he started chemotherapy.
EARLIEST STAGES: Before it has spread, surgery is the preferred option, followed by chemo and/or radiation therapy.
BORDERLINE SPREADING: Some cancers have almost reached nearby blood vessels. In that case, doctors use radiation therapy and/or chemo in a bid to shrink the tumor to then remove it surgically.
LOCALLY ADVANCED: If the cancer has spread slightly, chemo and radiation therapy are used together.
ADVANCED: For metastatic pancreatic cancer (i.e. cancer that has spread far from the original site, like Trebek’s), chemotherapy is the first-line option.
Radiation therapy is often used in late stages of other types of cancers, but it has been ineffective with painful side effects in some pancreatic cancer trials.
‘I’ve had kidney stones, I’ve had ruptured disks, so I’m used to dealing with pain, but what I’m not used to dealing with is the surges that come on suddenly of deep, deep sadness, and it brings tears to my eyes,’ he said at the time.
‘I’ve discovered in this whole episode, ladies and gentleman, that I’m a bit of a wuss,’ he continued with his famous good-natured humor. ‘But I’m fighting through it.’
Trebek joked that he got ‘lucky’ because his diagnosis came at the end of the last Jeopardy! season.
‘We wrapped up the season and now I have the summer months to recuperate and get strong again,’ he continued. ‘I just have to get strong because, as you know, the chemo takes it out of you. I mean, I feel so weak all the time and that’s not a good place to be.’
‘Chemo affects people in different ways and people have to understand that,’ he added. ‘There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Hey, I’m really depressed today and I have no idea why, why am I crying today?”‘
Trebek announced his devastating diagnosis in a YouTube video to Jeopardy! fans in March, joking that he had to beat the cancer because he was contracted to host the show for the next three years.
‘I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,’ he bravely declared. ‘Keep the faith, and we’ll win, we’ll get it done.’
At the end of the day, Trebek said his entire battle with cancer has made him realize he’s an ‘extremely lucky individual’.
‘In spite of the fact that this diagnosis is not a good one, I have managed to receive so much love from so many people,’ he said.
‘Quite often, you don’t get that during your lifetime. After you’re passed, after you’re dead, people say, “Oh, he was such a good guy we really liked him”, but I’m getting that all before that event. So it makes me feel really, really good.’