Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek sat down with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts on Wednesday morning for his first interview since revealing he has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in early March.
“People all over America have been sharing their good thoughts, their advice, their prayers and I feel it’s been making a difference in my wellbeing,” Trebek said. “I’ve had so many contacts from people who have survived cancer for 10 years, 12 years, 14 years. I am now a 30-day cancer survivor. I’m going to catch up to those other people. But they have been an inspiration to me.”
Trebek revealed that his oncologist says that he is doing well.
“I don’t always feel it,” the 78-year-old game show host confessed. “I’ve had kidney stones, I’ve had ruptured discs, so I’m used to dealing with pain. But what I’m not used to dealing with is the surges that come on suddenly of deep, deep sadness and it brings tears to my eyes. I’ve discovered in this whole episode, ladies and gentlemen, that I’m a bit of a wuss. But I’m fighting through it. My platelets are steady, my blood counts are steady, my weight is steady.”
He explained that he’s feeling a lot of different emotions that he’s not used to experiencing.
“Chemo affects people in different ways, and people have to understand that,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘Hey, I’m really depressed today and have no idea why. Why am I crying today?'”
Trebek added that his cancer indicator numbers are starting to go down and that he’ll be doing chemo again next week.
He told Roberts that some days are better than others, especially with the chemotherapy, which leaves him feeling “so weak all the time.”
“You have to deal with it. What am I gonna do?” he said. “It’s something I am afflicted with — we are dealing with it chemically and spiritually, and those are positive. Hopefully, everything is going to turn out well and I’ll be back on the air with original programming this September.”
Trebek shared a sign of gratitude to the people who have reached out to him during this time.
“I think I’ve learned that I’m an extremely lucky individual because, in spite of the fact this diagnosis is not a good one, I’ve managed to receive so much love from so many people and quite often you don’t get that during your lifetime… It makes me feel really, really good,” he said.
Trebek announced in a YouTube video on March 6 that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
WATCH BELOW: Alex Trebek releases statement on his medical condition
He vowed to keep working and beat the low survival rate statistics for the disease.
“Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” he said. “Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working.
“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,” he said.
Pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rate from 2008 to 2014 was 8.5 per cent. Stage 4 is the most advanced form of the disease.
In Canada, an estimated 5,500 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 4,800 died from it in 2017, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.
— With files from Global News’ Kerri Breen