The winning streak of James Holzhauer has captivated Jeopardy! viewers for weeks now, but so too has host Alex Trebek’s ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer. Ever since the esteemed television icon revealed his cancer diagnosis back in March, fans have been lending their support to him while wondering how the 78-year-old presenter is able to cope with the intense treatments. In a new interview with CBS Sunday Morning set to air this weekend, Trebek explains this and other related items — like his new hairpiece.
Speaking with anchor Jane Pauley in his own home, Trebek revealed that the treatment caused him to suffer intensely painful stomach cramps. “This got really bad. I was on the floor writhing in pain,” he explained. “And it happened three or four times a day while we were taping. So that was a little — little rough on me.” Despite the pain, however, Trebek refused to cancel any Jeopardy! tapings because of it:
“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.'”
And then there’s the matter of his hairpiece, which Trebek had to start wearing when his chemotherapy inevitably led to hair loss. Ever the game show host, he turned it into a sort of challenge. “So what the challenge for Jeopardy! viewers 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?”
Even Pauley couldn’t resist inspecting Trebek’s hairline as he explained this challenge. “This is not the real me,” he revealed to her. In amazement, the CBS Sunday Morning anchor responded, “Wow!”
Trebek’s full interview for CBS Sunday Morning airs this Sunday, May 12th at 9 a.m. ET/PT on CBS.