On Tuesday, Alex Trebek announced that he has returned to chemotherapy despite having told fans weeks ago that he had already finished treatment for his Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“I was doing so well,” the beloved Jeopardy! host said on Good Morning America on Tuesday. “And my numbers went down to the equivalent of a normal human being who does not have pancreatic cancer.”
This brought him to the decision to end chemotherapy. “We were all very optimistic. And they said, ‘Good, we’re going to stop chemo, we’ll start you on immunotherapy,’ ” he explained.
Unfortunately, this optimism lasted only a few weeks. Trebek’s weight started to drop as his numbers rose. “I lost about 12 pounds in a week and my numbers went sky-high, much higher than they were when I was diagnosed,” he recalled. “So the doctors have decided that I have to undergo chemo again, and that’s what I’m doing.”
Trebek has been extremely open about his ongoing cancer battle since he first revealed his diagnosis in March. At the time of the announcement, he promised Jeopardy! viewers that “I’m going to fight this.”
He made an impressive recovery in the months that followed. He was even reported to be “near remission” in May, according to People magazine. In August, when he announced that he was finished with chemotherapy treatments and would make a return to Jeopardy! to host another season, fans breathed a sigh of relief.
That sigh has been cut short. “In terms of getting my strength back, that hasn’t happened, unfortunately,” Trebek said to GMA. “My hair started to grow back, but now I have to undergo chemo again.” He even took a moment to discuss the emotional toll of this treatment. “For moments,” he said, “that for no reason at all, I feel this surge of sadness, depression.” Despite this, Trebek always tells himself, “just keep going.”
Trebek’s positivity confronts pancreatic cancer’s low survival rate. That being said, the possibility of passing on is not lost on him. “I realize that there is an end in sight for me just as there is for everyone else,” he said.
He continued by assuring staff of Jeopardy! that “when I do pass on, one thing they will not say at my funeral is, ‘He was taken from us too soon.’ I’m 79 years old, I’ve had one hell of a good life, and I’ve enjoyed it,” Trebek said. “The thought of passing on doesn’t frighten me, it doesn’t.”