Alex Trebek was 'thrown for a loop' by 'Jeopardy!' contestant's sweet gesture

The "Jeopardy!" host says the adrenaline of doing the show has kept him going during treatments for stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

Veteran "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek is usually the definition of calm and professional, but he admittedly was caught off guard by a sweet gesture from a contestant that went viral earlier this month.

Contestant Dhruv Gaur, a student at Brown University, wrote “We love you, Alex,” along with a heart drawing during Final Jeopardy in reference to Trebek's ongoing treatment for stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Alex Trebek said he was moved to tears by a kind message from a "Jeopardy!" contestant as he undergoes treatment for cancer. Kris Connor/Getty Images

"It surprised me on the show, obviously," Trebek said in an interview with USA Today. "I was thrown for a loop there. I started to tear up, but that’s OK; I tear up over a lot of things."

The heartwarming moment spawned the Twitter hashtag #WeLoveYouAlex as fans showed their support for Trebek, 79, who returned to host the 36th season of the show despite undergoing chemotherapy treatments that caused his hair to fall out and left him struggling to enunciate.

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"I’m just very grateful I got the opportunity to say what I know everyone was thinking," Gaur later tweeted. "Sending all the love."

Hosting the show and the support of the fans have kept Trebek going as he endures the effects of his treatments.

"I leave home and I’m in terrible shape sometimes," he said. "And then I get here, and I get in the studio and I get hair and makeup done and get my wardrobe on, and the adrenaline kicks in and I go out onstage and it’s exciting for me, and it seems to work.

"I have to push myself; I work harder than I did before, because it’s harder for me to concentrate with all the chemo and stuff. I feel dull, and I tire easily, but that’s OK."

Since his diagnosis in March, Trebek has worked to bring awareness and funding to fight pancreatic cancer. Thursday is World Pancreatic Cancer Day, which was created to bring awareness to one of the world's deadliest cancers.

Trebek gave an emotional speech at Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s PurpleStride walk in Los Angeles in May, inviting other pancreatic cancer survivors to join him onstage.

He told USA Today that he has had nine or 10 sessions of chemotherapy and hopes they will find a drug that will allow him to grow his hair back.

"It’s wearing on me, but I don't have any choice," he said. "I just have to stick with it."

Trebek spoke about his mortality in an interview with Canada's CTV last month.

"We'll play it by ear and keep chugging along until we either win or lose,” he said. “I’m not afraid of dying. I’ve lived a good life, a full life, and I’m nearing the end of that life … if it happens, why should I be afraid that?”