On March 6, 2019, longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek shared the heartbreaking news that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
In his YouTube announcement, Trebek, 78, vowed to fight the low survival rates for the disease.
“Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” Trebek said. “And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease.”
According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for stage 4 pancreatic cancer is 9 percent. However, Trebek recently revealed that he is responding well to chemotherapy treatment.
Trebek is responding so well, in fact, that doctors are saying that he is in “near remission,” according to People.
“It’s kind of mind-boggling,” Trebek told People. “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.”
The news has given Trebek and “Jeopardy!” fans renewed hope, though he still has to go through more chemotherapy to make it into full remission.
Trebek says the prayer and messages of support he has received have had a positive impact on his health.
“I’ve got a couple million people out there who have expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy directed toward me and their prayers,” Trebek said.
“I told the doctors, this has to be more than just the chemo, and they agreed it could very well be an important part of this.”
Trebek admitted that he cried “happy tears” upon learning that his tumors were dramatically shrinking. Although Trebek retains his optimistic and endearing persona onscreen, he is still fighting a hard battle.
“I’ve had kidney stones, I’ve had ruptured discs, so I’m used to dealing with pain,” Trebek told “Good Morning America.” “What I’m not used to dealing with [are] the surges that come on suddenly of deep, deep sadness and it brings tears to my eyes.”
As “Jeopardy!” prepares to enter its 36th season, Trebek plans to continue hosting the popular game show. Meanwhile, he is taking advantage of the opportunity to educate his fans about pancreatic cancer.
“It is something that I’m afflicted with, we are dealing with it chemically and spiritually, and those are positives,” Trebek said. “Hopefully everything is going to turn out well and we’ll be back on the air with original programming come this September.”
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