Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek said he is not afraid of dying and admitted he is "nearing the end" of his life after he suffered a setback in his cancer battle. In August, the venerated television host said he finished chemotherapy, but suffered a "dismal" setback and had to resume chemotherapy. Trebek, 79, revealed he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in March.
"I’m not afraid of dying," Trebek told CTV Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme at a University of Ottawa event last week. “I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life … if it happens, why should I be afraid that?"
"One thing they’re not going to say at my funeral, as a part of a eulogy, is 'He was taken from us too soon,'" Trebek added.
Trebek told PEOPLE his cancer was in "near remission" after chemotherapy in May and his tumors "shrunk by more than 50 percent.
“It’s kind of mind-boggling,” Trebek told the magazine 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.”
Unfortunately, in September, Trebek told Good Morning America he needed another round of chemotherapy and was going to lose his hair again.
"In terms of getting my strength back, that hasn't happened, unfortunately," Trebek explained. ""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."
After that, Trebek lost 12 pounds in a week and his 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."
Trebek said his new treatments were causing different side-effects that he does not understand. That includes "excruciating pain" in his lower back, fatigue and nausea.
In his interview with LaFlamme, Trebek said he is "hanging in."
"So we're back on the chemo and we'll see if the numbers go down. And if they do... they can't keep doing it forever of course," he said. "They’ll have to find a new protocol or whatever to administer. We'll play it by ear and keep chugging along until we either win or lose."
Trebek has hosted Jeopardy! for 36 seasons, and does not immediately plan to stop. He said he will continue "as long as my skills do not diminish," although he admitted chemotherapy caused sores in his mouth that make speaking difficult.
“I’m sure there are observant members of the television audience that notice also, but they’re forgiving,” Trebek told LaFlamme. “But there will come a point when they (fans and producers) will no longer be able to say, ‘It’s okay.’”
Surprisingly, Trebek told the CTV journalist he regretted taking his battle public because "there's a little too much Alex Trebek out there." He said becoming a spokesman for raising awareness for pancreatic cancer is a big responsibility.
"A lot of people are coming to me and looking for help, reassurance -- and that’s tough," Trebek said, adding that it is hard "trying to be as optimistic as you can when the other person feels none of that … they feel only despair. And I don’t know if I was strong enough or intelligent enough to help alleviate that despair."
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