"The doctors have decided that I have to undergo chemo again and that's what I'm doing," Alex Trebek said

By Dave Quinn
September 17, 2019 10:16 AM

Alex Trebek isn’t done with his treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer after all.

In a new interview that aired on Tuesday’s Good Morning America, the long-running Jeopardy! host, 79, revealed that he’s once again undergoing chemotherapy.

“The doctors have decided that I have to undergo chemo again and that’s what I’m doing,” Trebek said.

News of the setback comes a little over a month after Trebek told fans in a video message that he had finished his treatment and was doing better.

According to the Emmy winner, soon after filming that, he lost a large amount of weight — causing his doctors to recommend another round of the drug treatment.

“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,” Trebek recalled to GMA. “They said, ‘Good, we’re gonna stop chemo, we’ll start you on immunotherapy’ and I lost about 12 pounds in a week and my numbers went sky-high, much higher than they were when I was first diagnosed.” 

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Alex Trebek
ABC News

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Trebek first revealed the news of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in a video message on March 6.

He told GMA that “cancer is mysterious in more ways than one,” and that battling it has taken a tough toll on his body.

“It has different effects on you,” Trebek said. “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.”

“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,” he also said. “In terms of getting my strength back, that hasn’t happened unfortunately.”

Alex Trebek
Reed Saxon/AP/REX/Shutterstock

There have also been emotional downfalls too, Trebek said, including the occasional “surge of sadness and depression.”

“It doesn’t last very long but it just takes over my whole being for a short period of time,” Trebek explained. “I understand it more now so I can deal with it a lot better now 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,” he continued. “I talk to the audience sometimes and I get teary eyed for no reason. I don’t even bother to explain it anymore, I just experience it. I know it’s a part of who I am and I just keep going.”

No matter what happens with this round of treatment, Trebek told GMA that he doesn’t plan on walking away from Jeopardy!

“As long as I can walk out and greet the audience and the contestants and run the game I’m happy,” he said.

And as for death, Trebek said that he isn’t worried. “I realize that there is an end in sight for me just as there is for everyone else,” Trebek said.

“One line that I have used for 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 too soon,’ ” he added.

“I’m 79 years old. I’ve had one hell of a good life and I’ve enjoyed it. And the thought of passing on doesn’t frighten me. It doesn’t. Other things do. The effect it’ll have on my loved ones, yes that bothers me, it makes me sad. But the thought of myself moving on? Hey folks, it comes with the territory.”

In a statement provided to PEOPLE,tThe Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) — a leading patient advocacy organization dedicated to fighting the world’s toughest cancer — commended Trebek.

“Chemotherapy is considered a standard of care therapy for patients with pancreatic cancer. It is not unusual for pancreatic cancer patients to initially respond well and then to require further treatment. Most patients will continue on chemotherapy as long as it is effective,” said PanCAN, noting that “every patient is unique.”

“Like many other pancreatic cancer patients, Mr. Trebek was diagnosed at a late stage (stage IV),” said PanCAN. “That’s why it’s so important to know the common symptoms, which include mid-back pain, stomach pain, jaundice and weight loss, to help catch this disease earlier, when surgery may be an option.”

Good Morning America airs weekday mornings (7 a.m. ET) on ABC.

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