Katie Couric revealed Wednesday on social media that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June.
On her website, the veteran broadcast journalist and podcast host shared an essay detailing her treatment so far and urging readers to get their annual mammograms.
“Every two minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States,” Couric, 65, wrote on Instagram.
“On June 21st, I became one of them. As we approach #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth, I wanted to share my personal story with you all and encourage you to get screened and understand that you may fall into a category of women who needs more than a mammogram.”
In recent months, Couric said, she has undergone a lumpectomy and radiation therapy – the treatment recommended for her Stage 1A cancer diagnosis. She completed her final round of radiation on Tuesday.
“I was warned that I may be fatigued and my skin may turn a little pink,” the former “Today” anchor wrote in her essay. “My left breast does look like I’ve been sunbathing topless, but other than that, I’ve felt fine.”
Initially, the “Next Question” podcast host had intended to record her routine mammogram and breast ultrasound for her audience — similarly to how she aired her colonoscopy on NBC’s “Today” show in 2000 and influenced others to get the exam, she explained. But when her doctor returned with the results, she asked Couric’s film crew to cut the cameras.
Her physician had discovered a mass that — after a biopsy — was confirmed to be a tumor. Couric received her diagnosis via phone during her first day back “in a very long time” at the Katie Couric Media office.
“I felt sick and the room started to spin,” she said.
“I walked to a corner and spoke quietly, my mouth unable to keep up with the questions swirling in my head. What does this mean? Will I need a mastectomy? Will I need chemo? What will the next weeks, months, even years look like?”
Couric, who has no history of breast cancer in her family, soon found out that “85% of the 264,000 American women who are diagnosed every year in this country have no family history.”
The former talk-show host also recalled breaking the news to her daughters, who “began to cry” as Couric “tried to be … reassuring.” Their father, attorney Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998.
“They’d already lost one parent,” Couric wrote. “The idea of losing another was unfathomable.”
In the following weeks, Couric had her tumor removed and learned her Oncotype, “which measures the likelihood of your cancer returning,” and was “considered low enough to forgo chemotherapy.” She started radiation in September and listened to music by artists including Stevie Wonder and Taylor Swift during her sessions. (“Maybe I’ll put my radiation playlist on Spotify,” she joked.)
“Throughout the process, I kept thinking about two things: how lucky I was to have access to such incredible care, since so many people don’t, and how lucky I was to be the beneficiary of such amazing technology,” Couric said.
“It made me feel grateful and guilty — and angry that there’s a de facto caste system when it comes to healthcare in America.”
Before signing off, Couric vowed to cover “every aspect of breast cancer” during October — aka Breast Cancer Awareness Month — from diagnostic tools and prevention strategies to treatment plans and personal experiences.
“Why am I telling you all this? Well, since I’m the ‘Screen Queen’ of colon cancer, it seemed odd to not use this as another teachable moment that could save someone’s life,” Couric said.
“Please get your annual mammogram. I was six months late this time. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had put it off longer.”
Couric’s health update comes a day after “Chicago Med” star Marlyne Barrett shared her own cancer diagnosis in an interview with People magazine. The 44-year-old actor — whose TV character battled breast cancer onscreen — said she was stunned to discover she had uterine and ovarian cancer in real life, despite having no family history of either.
“The initial experience was a shock, a shock to my womanhood,” she told People.
“I didn’t believe them, but when they showed me the CT scan, I went, ‘Oh my word.’ The first questions were, ‘Am I going to live?’ I just fell into my husband’s arms. It still takes my breath away when I think about it.”
Determined to fight for the sake of her husband and young children, Barrett has committed to “aggressive chemotherapy” and an eventual hysterectomy. While undergoing treatment, she has continued to work on “Chicago Med,” where some of her colleagues have shaved their heads in solidarity.
“We as human beings are so scared to face the mortality of life, or to even pronounce the word cancer,” she said. “But we have so much more strength inside of us than we think.”
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