Alex Trebek received an encouraging health update as he battles stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
The “Jeopardy!” host, 78, told People that his doctors informed him earlier this month that he’s been responding so well to chemotherapy that some of his tumors have shrunk by 50 percent.
“The doctors said that they hadn’t seen this kind of positive result in their memory,” Trebek said. “It’s kind of mind-boggling. I’ve already gone from where I was to this. The doctors are so excited, just beside themselves with joy.”
The same could be said of Trebek.
“I got a little emotional,” he said of hearing the positive news. “But these were tears of joy— not tears of great depression.”
The longtime game show host previously told ABC’s Robin Roberts that he’s struggled with “surges” of “deep, deep sadness” amid his health issues. He also told CBS’ Jane Pauley that there were moments where he “writhed in pain and cried in pain.”
Despite the encouraging news, Trebek said he’s still worried about his prognosis, given that pancreatic cancer is typically fatal.
“I know the survival rates for pancreatic cancer are very, very low,” he said. “When you hear problems with the pancreas, you think, ‘Oh dear, not that.’”
According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for those with pancreatic cancer is 9%, and in the early stages often the disease does not manifest in any signs or symptoms, so “by the time they do cause symptoms, they have often already spread outside the pancreas.”
Trebek’s main concern, however, isn’t for himself — it’s for those around him.
“Mortality doesn’t worry me — except for the effect it has on those who care about me,” he said.
Although Trebek and his doctors credit his medical treatment for his successful results so far, Trebek is also quick to give credit to his fans who have sent thoughts, prayers, holy water, oils and even cannabis.
“I told the doctors, this has to be more than just chemo,” Trebek said. “I’ve had a couple million people out there who have expressed their good thoughts, their positive energy and their prayers. The doctors said it could very well be an important part of this.
“You usually don’t hear about how you’ve affected people until you’re dead, and then you obviously really don’t hear it; your family does,” he continued. “They might think, ‘Gee, he was really liked and respected,’ but I’m hearing it while I’m alive. That’s been such a positive in my life.”
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