As Alex Trebek starts a new chapter in his battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Dr. Oz is in his corner.
The cardiac surgeon and talk show host reacted to the “Jeopardy!” host’s recent announcement that he’ll be heading back for another round of chemotherapy after doctors initially believed he was done with the treatment.
“I’ve always adored Alex Trebek. He’s one of the people I look to for mentorship,” Oz told Access Hollywood. “I don’t think he’s putting a brave front on. I think he’s made peace that he has a big battle. It’s not a wind sprint, it’s a marathon. And he’s going to keep his eyes looking forward and look for the light.”
On Sept. 17, one week after his grand return to TV for Season 36 of “Jeopardy!,” Trebek announced on the beloved game show’s social media channels that he’d hit a speed bump in his treatment journey.
“This summer, because I was making such good progress, we thought I was finished with chemo. That was a bit premature and certainly optimistic. I began immunotherapy, but that didn’t go well. My numbers went south – dramatically and quickly. The doctors are now reexamining my situation, and it appears will be having more chemo treatments ahead of me,” he explained.
Trebek told “Good Morning America” that despite his new challenge, he doesn’t plan to stop hosting “Jeopardy!” any time soon.
“As long as I can walk out and greet the audience and contestants and run the game, I’m happy,” he said.
Oz told Access that the ABC star’s passion for work is an asset as he fights this disease.
“Trebek is one of the bravest men out there. He’s also one of the wisest – by not giving up his day job, by thriving, by serving others and by keeping engaged in the world. You keep fighting through difficult times. So no matter how bad his illness may get, he’ll be strong enough to overcome it – be stronger than he would have been if he had given up his job,” he said.
WATCH: Alex Trebek Undergoing Another Round Of Chemo For Pancreatic Cancer: ‘My Numbers Went Sky-High’
Oz also shared his insight on the impact of undergoing chemotherapy, which can slow down even the strongest of fighters.
“It takes the wind out of your sails. You end up often breathless, very weak. Imagine – you’re taking a toxin, a poison into your body, designed to kill what’s trying to kill you: the sociopathic cancer cells. But it’s going to wipe out a lot of your own cells. It’s that collateral damage that really takes people into a very different place from where they would normally be. They’re weaker, they lose their appetite, they lose their hair – oftentimes, depending on the chemotherapy – and they just feel down. That’s when you have to lift people up the most. It’s also when they’re most prone to getting an infection, which is what often happens to people who have cancer,” he explained.
“But here’s the thing about cancer in 2019: If you can take the treatment, you’ll often beat the cancer,” he continued. “As long as you can manage yourself through the treatment, which means meticulous diet, physical activity, mindset, support system, everything that’s required to weather the storm of chemotherapy – the treatments have gotten so good that we can save most lives.”
WATCH: Alex Trebek Makes Big Return To ‘Jeopardy!’ After Cancer Treatment
Trebek first went public with his cancer diagnosis in March, telling viewers at the time that he wouldn’t give up.
“I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working,” he pledged. “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.”
Following his initial announcement, Oz shared his best wishes for his friend on Twitter.
“I’m saddened to hear about Alex Trebek’s stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Stay strong, friend,” he wrote.
Alex Trebek is one of my all-time favorite people. I've loved being around him. pic.twitter.com/9mCRMlucvU
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) March 6, 2019