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Alex Trebek’s pancreatic cancer treatment is not over, the “Jeopardy” host recently revealed. Trebek announced he would undergo a second round of chemotherapy and also revealed some frank, honest thoughts he’s been having about the end of his life.
In an interview on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, Trebek said his first round of chemotherapy brought his “numbers” “down to the equivalent of a normal human being who does not have pancreatic cancer,” so his doctors had him stop chemo and start immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment helps your immune system fight the cancer. However, Trebek said after he started immunotherapy, he lost 12 pounds in a week and his numbers went “sky high,” even higher than when he was first diagnosed. So his doctors started him on a second round of chemotherapy.
Trebek said he’s realized there is “an end in sight” for him. And he has made a request of his staff for when he’s gone.
“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,'” Trebek said. “Hey guys, I’m 79 years old. I’ve had one hell of a good life and I’ve enjoyed it.”
“The thought of passing on doesn’t frighten me. It doesn’t,” he continued. “Other things do. The effect it will have on my loved ones. Yes, that bothers me and makes me sad. But the thought of myself moving on, hey folks, it comes with the territory.”
Since he first revealed his cancer diagnosis in March, Trebek has been open about how his treatment is going and the emotional and physical challenges he’s encountered. He discussed his depression in an episode of “Good Morning America” in May, explaining that he’s not used to the surges of “deep, deep sadness” that bring tears to his eyes.
“Chemo affects people in different ways and people have to understand that,” Trebek said. “There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘Hey, I’m really depressed today and I have no idea why. Why am I crying today?’”
Trebek also discussed some of the other side effects of his treatments, including “excruciating pain” in his lower back, fatigue and nausea, as well as sadness and depression. But he said he understands his depression more now so he can deal with it better than he did in the beginning.
“When it happened early on I was down on myself. I said, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be reacting this way,'” Trebek said. “I didn’t realize how fallible each of us is in his or her own way. I just experience it. I know it is part of who I am and I am going to just keep going.”
Pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of 9%, based on people diagnosed between 2008 and 2014, according to the American Cancer Society. It can be difficult to find pancreatic cancer early, since people often don’t have symptoms until the cancer has already become large or started to spread to other organs.
Trebek is currently at work filming the 36th season of “Jeopardy.”