Katie Couric, 65, revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The former Today anchor underwent surgery and radiation over the summer.
She hopes to use her experience as a teachable moment to urge others to get annual mammograms and inquire about additional screenings for dense breasts.
Ahead of Breast Cancer Awareness month, Katie Couric felt it was appropriate to share some news she’s held onto for a bit. In June, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In a new Instagram post and personal essay, the former Today anchor opened up about her diagnosis and treatment and urged others to take preventative health care seriously.
“Every two minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. On June 21st, I became one of them,” she captioned a photo of her in a hospital gown and mask. “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.”
The diagnosis came from a routine mammogram—one that was six months overdue. Assuming everything would be fine, Couric intended to use her delayed screening as a public service announcement to remind others to keep up on their checkups. And then, after the X-ray and ultrasound (warranted by her dense breasts), doctors found something that needed to be biopsied. The next day, she got a call. It was cancer.
Celebrities showered Couric with love and well wishes. “Holy freaking Toledo kid I had no idea I’m standing by if you need a thing Xo,” Sharon Stone wrote. “Sending loads of love and light to you 💙 Thank you for sharing this,” Rachel Brosnahan commented. “Thank you for telling your story. Admire you so much. ❤️,” Julianne Moore wrote. Kelly Ripa had no words, only emojis: “❤️🙏🏼.”
Fans sent Couric well wishes too, sharing their own battles with breast cancer. “I was diagnosed July 30th…This post could not have come at a better time❤️,” one follower wrote. “Thank you. I had a similar diagnosis about 10 years ago minus the radiation. I have my doctor on my list of 748 things to do today. Making an appointment just moved up to the top of the list.❤️,” another commented.
In her essay, Couric detailed the rush of emotions she felt hearing her diagnosis, especially knowing her family history with the disease, and losing her husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer, her sister from pancreatic cancer, and her mother-in-law from ovarian cancer.
“I felt sick and the room started to spin. 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,” she wrote. “What does this mean? Will I need a mastectomy? Will I need chemo? What will the next weeks, months, even years look like?”
Then reality began to set in. “Given my family’s history of cancer, why would I be spared?” she wrote. “My reaction went from ‘Why me?’ to ‘Why not me?’”
In a follow-up appointment, doctors told her that her tumor was “hormone receptor-positive, Her2neu-negative, and highly treatable, particularly if it was detected early.” She went on to have a lumpectomy to remove the olive-sized mass, staged 1A, and was prescribed radiation and medication. The likelihood of her cancer’s return was low enough to forego chemotherapy.
“I was warned that I may be fatigued and my skin may turn a little pink. Yesterday was my final round. My left breast does look like I’ve been sunbathing topless, but other than that, I’ve felt fine,” she wrote.
Couric realizes that sharing all of her medical details may seem a little TMI, but after filming her colonoscopy on Today in 2000 increased the procedure’s frequency by 20%, she figured this story might make a difference, too.
Couric has dense breasts, which increases cancer risk, per the National Cancer Institute, makes it harder to find cancer, and requires ultrasounds in addition to mammograms for routine screenings. Many people don’t know their breast density (only 38 states require doctors to notify them of it), nor do they know about the additional preventative screenings available, and Couric wants to change that.
“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,” she wrote. “But just as importantly, please find out if you need additional screening.”
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