Alex Trebek has resumed chemotherapy treatments, weeks after doctors told him his pancreatic cancer was in remission and that he was cleared to go back to work.
“My hair started to grow back, but now I have to undergo chemo again,” the Sudbury-born Jeopardy! host told Good Morning America on Tuesday. “So what little hair I have grown is going to disappear again.”
Trebek revealed his cancer fight in March, but last month told fans treatment had gone extraordinarily well.
“I've gone through a lot of chemotherapy and thankfully that is now over,” he said. “I'm on the mend. That's all I can hope for right now.”
But the reprieve proved to be short-lived, Trebek said, and after stopping treatment he began losing weight.
“I was doing so well and my numbers went down to the equivalent of a normal human being who does not have pancreatic cancer,” he said. “So we were all very optimistic and they said good, we're going to stop chemo will start you on immunotherapy.
“I lost about 12 pounds in a week and my numbers went sky high – much higher than they were when I was first diagnosed. So the doctors had decided that I have to undergo chemo again and that's what I'm doing.”
He said his treatment and diagnosis have caused him some unusual symptoms that he no longer tries to understand.
“I talk to the audience sometimes and I get teary-eyed for no reason whatsoever,” Trebek told Good Morning America. “For some reason, and I don't understand why, occasionally it will cause excruciating pain in my lower back. Other times, it's fatigue, other times, it's nausea. It varies. Cancer is mysterious in more ways than one.
“There are moments when, for no reason at all, I feel this surge of sadness, depression. It doesn't last very long, but it just takes over my whole being for a short period of time … I can't explain it. I don't even bother trying to explain it anymore. I just experience it.”
People who have Stage 4 pancreatic cancer usually only survive weeks or months. While he hasn't given up, Trebek said he's ready for whatever happens.
“The thing I suppose that gives me the most optimism is that hey, I'm still here and I don't feel terrible,” he said. “I realize that there is an end in sight for me, just as there is for everyone else. One line that I have used with our staff in recent weeks and months is that when I do pass on, one thing they will not say at my funeral is 'Oh, he was taken from us too soon.'
“Hey guys, I'm 79 years old. I had one hell of a good life, and I've enjoyed it. And the thought of passing on doesn't frighten me.”
The effect on his family and loved ones does concern him, he said, “but the thought of myself moving on? Hey folks, it comes with the territory.”
And he has not thought about giving up his Jeopardy! Gig, at least for the time being.
“No,” he said. “As long as I can walk out and greet the audience and the contestants and run the game, I'm happy.”