The legendary journalist and author, whose first husband Jay Monahan died of colon cancer in 1998, opened up about her health while urging her female followers to get their mammograms — something she said she had to be reminded of during a visit to her gynecologist.
"Please get your annual mammogram," wrote Couric, 65. "I was six months late this time. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had put it off longer. But just as importantly, please find out if you need additional screening."
She explained in her essay that she learned she had cancer after her mammogram — and a breast sonogram she routinely undergoes to detect abnormalities that sometimes can't be seen through her dense breast tissue — spotted something her doctor wanted to look at further.
A biopsy came back as showing cancer in her breast.
"I felt sick and the room started to spin," the former Today anchor wrote of the moment she learned of her diagnosis. "I was in the middle of an open office, so 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?' "
She also considered her family's history of cancer (he father had prostate cancer and her mother, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma), which led her to think, "Why would I be spared? My reaction went from 'Why me?' to 'Why not me?' "
Couric had a lumpectomy on July 14, doctors removing a tumor she wrote was "2.5 centimeters, roughly the size of an olive."
Pathology results came back as showing that her cancer was stage 1A. She also learned that the likelihood of the cancer returning was "considered low enough to forgo chemotherapy."
Mike Windle/Getty Katie Couric
The former talk show host — whose husband John Molner had "a tumor the size of a coconut on his liver" surgically removed prior to their 2014 wedding — started radiation on Sept. 7, with her final round occurring just this past Tuesday.
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After imploring readers to get their annual mammograms, Couric lamented on the state of "insurance companies [being required] to fully or partially reimburse patients for the cost of potentially lifesaving breast ultrasounds."
"I can't tell you how many times during this experience I thanked God that it was 2022," she wrote. "And how many times I silently thanked all the dedicated scientists who have been working their asses off to develop better ways to analyze and treat breast cancer. But to reap the benefits of modern medicine, we need to stay on top of our screenings, advocate for ourselves, and make sure everyone has access to the diagnostic tools that could very well save their life."
She went on to reveal that she'd be using her experience as a teachable moment.
"During the month of October, we'll be covering every aspect of breast cancer: the latest diagnostic tools, treatments, and prevention strategies as well as sharing first-person accounts," Couric concluded. "And of course, I'll have more on what I'm learning as I navigate my own diagnosis."