“JEOPARDY!” HOST ALEX TREBEK OPENS UP TO “CBS SUNDAY MORNING’S” JANE PAULEY ABOUT HIS BATTLE WITH PANCREATIC CANCER, WORKING THROUGH CRIPPLING PAIN, AND WHETHER VIEWERS NOTICE HIS HAIRPIECE
Trebek Tells Pauley: “This Got Really Bad – I Was on the Floor Writhing in Pain”
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JEOPARDY! host Alex Trebek opens up about his battle with pancreatic cancer and working through crippling pain, in his first at-home television interview since he went public with his diagnosis. Trebek’s sit-down with anchor Jane Pauley for CBS SUNDAY MORNING will be broadcast Sunday, May 12 (9:00 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network.
Trebek, 78, told the world on March 6 that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. He learned of the diagnosis while still in production on the hugely popular quiz show. He tells Pauley he found out he had cancer after telling his doctor about a pain in his stomach that wouldn’t go away.
Tests revealed a lump “the size of a small fist” inside his abdomen. And then he was told it was stage four.
“Well, that just means it’s spread to other places,” Trebek says.
Early on in his treatment, he suffered excruciating stomach cramps, off camera and on.
“This got really bad. I was on the floor writhing in pain. It – It went to – it went from a 3 to an 11. And I just couldn’t believe. I didn’t know what was happening,” Trebek says. “And it happened three or four times a day while we were taping. So that was a little – little rough on me.”
Trebek, who has done nearly 8,000 episodes of the show, did not want to cancel production.
“I taped the show, and then I made it to the dressing room on one occasion, just barely, before I writhed in pain and cried in pain,” Trebek says. “So – and I had 15 minutes before the next show. So I got myself together and spasms of that kind usually last about 10 to 15 minutes. So all right, here we go again. ‘Anybody got any pain pills?’ And I don’t like taking pain pills. But – so I – I got through it. And the producers were very kind. They said, ‘Look, if you – If you don’t want to do the show – we’ll just cancel taping.’ I said, ‘No. We’re here. We’re doing the shows.’”
The treatment also required Trebek to wear a hairpiece during production of the show.
“And so what the challenge for JEOPARDY! viewers is right now is to figure out, ‘Is that Alex’s real hair, or is that a full hairpiece?’ Because they all know that when you start chemo you lose your hair. So which is it? All right. You’re looking right now,” Trebek tells Pauley.
“Yes, I am. Yeah,” she says.
“This is not the real me,” Trebek says.
“Wow,” Pauley responds.
“No. But on air I’m told that there were times – when the hairpiece looked better than my real hair. So we’ll see how people react to that. We have the summer months off. So hopefully my own hair will grow back. Because I like my own hair,” Trebek says.
CBS SUNDAY MORNING is broadcast Sundays (9:00-10:30 AM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Rand Morrison is the executive producer.
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