Marc Summers Reveals Secret Five-Year Battle With Leukemia

Marc Summers
Former Double Dare host Marc Summers revealed in a radio interview that he was diagnosed with leukemia five years ago Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Marc Summers, the former host of Nickelodeon's Double Dare, opened up about a very personal challenge on Philadelphia radio station WMMR this week. Speaking on the Preston and Steve show on Monday, Feb. 9, the Unwrapped star revealed his secret five-year battle with leukemia. 

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"I've been sort of keeping something secret for the last five years, and I guess I'm ready to talk about it now, and that is: I was diagnosed with cancer five years ago," Summers, 63, told hosts Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison. "You know, in show business, if you talk about that stuff, it's hard to get hired afterward…And I've sort of compressed this thing and it's made me nuts."

Summers — who has also been an executive producer for Food Network shows including Restaurant: Impossible and Food Feuds — said he almost went public with the news when he appeared on Oprah Winfrey's Where Are They Now? last year. Ultimately, though, he didn't feel enough of "an attachment" to the people involved in the show.

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Having appeared repeatedly on Preston and Steve, however, he decided they were the right people to tell.

"It's a fact that I was diagnosed with something called chronic lymphocytic leukemia," he explained. "I was having stomach problems and in severe pain, went to a hospital, and they took 17 and a half inches of my small intestine out."

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That's when he got the bad news. "When I woke up, I said — because I'm a stand-up comic, just trying to make light of the situation — 'Hey doctor, do I have cancer?'" Summers recalled. "And he said, 'As a matter of fact, you do.' And that sort of freaked me out. And he said, 'You need to get to an oncologist right away.' Well, man, those are the words I don't wish on anybody."

Summers' first doctor diagnosed him with CLL, but his second doctor diagnosed him with mantle cell lymphoma and told him he had six months to live. 

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"I was freaking out," he told Elliot and Morrison. "I called my wife in tears and said, 'I'm not gonna get to see the kids marry. The guy told me to get our papers ready.'" (The star has been married since 1974 to Alice Filous, with whom he has two children.)

Fortunately, the second doctor turned out to be wrong. Summers did, in fact, have CLL. He underwent chemo for two years — which he describes as "brutal" — and then had PET scans every year after that until this past December, when he "finally got the all-clear sign" from his oncologist.

"I'm not covering it up anymore," he said. "I had it, I'm in remission…and I'm ready to move on."

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