Alex Trebek Reveals 'Dismal' Setback in Cancer Battle

Longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek revealed Tuesday that he has to undergo chemotherapy treatments again after a "dismal" summer as far as achieving his goals of growing his hair back and regaining his strength amid his diagnosis of stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

"My hair started to grow back, but now I have to undergo chemo again. So what little hair I have grown is going to disappear again," Trebek, 79, told Good Morning America's TJ Holmes on Tuesday.

Trebek had previously announced that he had completed chemotherapy and was "on the mend," but Tuesday revealed that his "numbers" took a concerning spike following round one of treatment.

"In terms of getting my strength back, that hasn't happened, unfortunately," he said. "I 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 gonna stop chemo, we'll start immunotherapy."

But after that, "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 have decided that I have to undergo chemo again."

He said that he's already started the treatments, and that it has "different effects" than the first time around for "reasons I don't understand."

"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," Trebek explained.

As always, the TV personality said he's trying to stay optimistic amid the bad news. "The thing that gives me the most optimism is that hey, I'm still here. And I don't feel terrible."

But that's easier said than done.

"I'm still a bit of a wuss. 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 being for a short period of time. I understand it more now, so I can deal with it a lot better than I did before. When it happened early on, I was down on myself. I said, 'Hey, you shouldn't be reacting this way.' I didn't realize how fallible each of us is in his or her own way. I just experience it, I know that it's part of who I am, and I'm going to just keep going."

"I realize there is an end in sight for me like there is for everyone else. One line that I have used with my staff in recent weeks and months is when I do pass on, one thing that will not be said at my funeral is 'Oh, he was taken from us too soon.' Hey guys, 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. Other things do: the effect it will have on my loved ones — yes, that bothers me. It makes me sad. But the thought of myself moving on, hey folks, comes with the territory."

"As long as I can walk out and greet the audience and the contestants and run the game, I'm happy."

Trebek first announced his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March, telling fans that he intended to fight the low survival rates. In May, he revealed he was in "near remission" and that his tumors "shrunk by more than 50 percent."

"It's kind of mind-boggling," Trebek said at the time. "The doctors said they hadn't seen this kind of positive result in their memory … some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent."

And in August, he announced in a video promoting Season 36 of Jeopardy! that he had finished chemotherapy.


"I've gone through a lot of chemotherapy and thankfully, that is now over," he said at the time. "I'm on the mend, and that's all I can hope for right now."

Trebek has been the host of Jeopardy! for 35 years, taking over from host Art Fleming in 1984.