In a candid revelation on Hoda Kotb's podcast "Making Space," Maria Menounos, a renowned TV personality, shared her challenging journey with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Despite experiencing concerning symptoms for over a year, including abdominal swelling that made her appear as if she had "swallowed a basketball," Menounos's initial medical consultations did not lead to a diagnosis.
Her struggle began with visits to a gastroenterologist, exploring potential causes like celiac disease. After undergoing an endoscopy and colonoscopy at 45, Menounos was informed of minor findings but no concrete answers to her pain.
"The investigation doesn’t stop," she asserted, determined to uncover the root cause of her distress.
Diagnosis and Intuition
Complicating matters, Menounos was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a condition shared with her father.
This was followed by severe abdominal pains, so intense that during one flight, she feared for her life. Despite a CT scan that showed nothing unusual, her intuition told her something was amiss. A pivotal moment came when a full-body scan, recommended by a friend, revealed a significant mass on her pancreas.
An emergency MRI confirmed the grim reality, yet initial medical optimism prevailed until a biopsy was conducted. "This is probably just inflammation, maybe pancreatitis," a seasoned doctor reassured her before the biopsy. January 2023 marked a turning point when Menounos received her pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
The following month, a complex surgery removed the mass, part of her pancreas, her spleen, 17 lymph nodes, and a fibroid. Fortunately, the cancer had not spread, rendering additional treatment unnecessary. Today, Menounos celebrates being cancer-free.
Reflecting on this ordeal, Menounos emphasized the criticality of self-advocacy in health matters. "We have to be the CEO of our health," she advised, underscoring the importance of personal intuition and persistence in medical journeys.
This experience mirrored a previous health challenge when Menounos self-diagnosed a benign brain tumor, demonstrating a keen awareness of her body's signals. Her story is not just one of survival but a powerful reminder of the importance of listening to one's body and being an active participant in one's health care.