Revealing that she was diagnosed with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer in January while planning for a baby shower, the former ‘Extra’ host admits she thought she ‘was a goner.’
AceShowbiz –Maria Menounos‘ life was turned upside down in the last few months. After learning that she’s finally going to be a mom after years of trying, the TV presenter, who is currently expecting her first child with husband Keven Undergaro via surrogate, reveals that she secretly battled pancreatic cancer.
“I was feeling so good, and then I got slapped in the face with a new diagnosis,” the 44-year-old opens up to PEOPLE. Her deteriorating health began in June 2022, when she had severe leg cramps. “I’d scream out loud. I was inconsolable,” she says of the insufferable pain.
A trip to the hospital revealed she had type 1 diabetes, which runs in her family, and she began taking insulin and monitoring her glucose. “I was crushing it,” a hopeful Maria recalls. “I felt so good. What else could go wrong?”
In November, the former “Extra” host returned to the hospital with what she called “excruciating abdominal pain coupled with diarrhea.” A CT scan and further testing came back inconclusive, but her pain continued. At one point, she describes feeling “like someone was tearing my insides out.”
Finally, a full body MRI revealed a mass on her pancreas, with a biopsy confirming it was cancerous. “I’m like ‘How in the freaking world can I have a brain tumor and pancreatic cancer?’ ” Maria recalls thinking. “All I could think was that I have a baby coming. I was like ‘How could God finally bless me with a baby and then take me before I get to meet her?’ I guttural cried, it was so intense.”
She admits she fell into despair and imagined “the worst.” She shares, “I had that moment where I thought I was a goner.” She recalls having a conversation with her husband, whom she married in 2017, ” ‘If something happens, here are the people I want her around and what I want you to do. You’ll probably have to move back East to be with my dad so that she has him.’ We talked about all of it. We imagined the worst.”
“When you are met with a [potential] death sentence,” she says, “everything changes,” adding that her latest health scare also took an emotional toll on her husband, who helped her through being diagnosed and treated for a benign brain tumor back in 2017.
“We’re usually really good in crisis,” she says of her and her 56-year-old TV producer husband. “This one,” she says regarding her recent pancreatic cancer diagnosis, “this one freaked him out. He was really scared.”
Fortunately, Maria underwent a successful surgery to remove a 3.9-cm. tumor from her pancreas. “I’m grateful,” she says now of having a clean bill of health, though she’ll continue to get scans for the next five years.
“I’m so grateful and so lucky,” the former E! News correspondent, who is counting down the days to her baby’s arrival this summer, gushes. “God granted me a miracle. I’m going to appreciate having her in my life so much more than I would have before this journey.”
Looking back, Maria says, “This whole year has been trauma, stress, crisis, but I’m okay because I caught this early enough.”
Having benefited from it, she is now working to promote early health interventions and the affordability of whole-body MRI’s like the one she received. “I need people to know there are places they can go to catch things early,” she explains. “You can’t let fear get in the way. I had that moment where I thought I was a goner-but I’m okay because I caught this early enough.”
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