Maria Menounos, a prominent television personality, has recently shared her harrowing journey of experiencing an unusual symptom that ultimately led to the diagnosis of stage 2 pancreatic cancer. At the age of 45, Menounos described enduring an intense pain that felt as though she was about to "explode inside," which occurred following the consumption of a farro salad during a flight.
Despite initially being dismissed by doctors when she reported her bloating symptoms, Menounos sought a second opinion and underwent further medical scanning at another hospital. This crucial decision led to the discovery of a 1.5-inch tumor in her pancreas.
At the time, Menounos was anxiously awaiting the birth of her daughter Athena through surrogacy. She swiftly underwent surgery to remove the tumor and is now in remission, sharing her story to emphasize the importance of being attentive to one’s body and not ignoring symptoms.
Pancreatic cancer stands as one of the deadliest cancer types in the United States, with a mere 10% of patients living beyond a year post-diagnosis. Menounos, who boasts a following of over 1.1 million on Instagram, is using her platform to highlight the necessity of taking bodily symptoms seriously, even when medical professionals may initially overlook them.
Unveiling Hidden Agony
She recounted the excruciating pain experienced after her salad meal during an interview with TODAY, emphasizing the gravity of the situation. Despite undergoing an endoscopy, a colonoscopy, and a CT scan in 2022, the initial medical investigations failed to reveal any abnormalities.
Her pancreas was even described as "unremarkable" in the CT scan results. However, persistent symptoms, including diarrhea and recurring pain, led Menounos to seek further medical attention. In January 2023, she underwent a full-body MRI scan at a different hospital, which finally uncovered the tumor.
The TV star underwent surgery the following month, resulting in the removal of the tumor, part of her pancreas and spleen, and 17 lymph nodes. Now in good health, Menounos remains vigilant, keeping a detailed log of any concerning symptoms.
She recently took to social media to express her gratitude and reflect on her journey, sharing a photo of her bikini-clad self, scars on display. She described her daughter Athena, now four months old, as her greatest source of strength and joy.
Pancreatic cancer, a relatively rare cancer type, accounts for 3% of all cancer cases in the U.S., with approximately 64,000 new cases diagnosed annually. The disease is particularly insidious, as it rarely exhibits symptoms in its early stages and is often advanced by the time of diagnosis.
The American Cancer Society notes that the majority of pancreatic cancer patients are over the age of 65, with almost all patients being older than 45. Menounos is sharing her story to raise awareness during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, underscoring the critical need for early detection.
Dr. Julie Fleshman, President of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, expressed her gratitude towards Menounos and other ambassadors for their courage in sharing their stories, highlighting the ongoing efforts in research and raising public awareness about the risks and symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer.