Maria Menounos Beating Pancreatic Cancer and Embracing Motherhood
TV star Maria Menounos has survived her battle with cancer, and she’s now sharing her story in hopes of saving others. In a new interview with People magazine, she revealed that she was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer in January and underwent surgery to remove a 3.9-cm tumor.
She also shared that she’s “very grateful” to have caught her tumor early and is thankful for her husband Keven Undergaro, who slept in the hospital each night while she was recovering from her surgery, and her dad, Costas, for providing her with “the best care.”
Her prognosis is excellent — she will not need chemotherapy or additional treatment, according to her doctor, UCLA’s Dr. Ryan Aronin, and her surgeon, Dr. Timothy Donahue. Instead, she will have regular scans for the next five years to monitor her health and determine if any symptoms appear.
What’s more, she’ll be able to welcome her first child soon, as Menounos and Undergaro recently enlisted the services of a surrogate for the birth of their daughter, which will be born in the summer. And although her journey to become a mother has been long, it’s all worth it when she and Undergaro finally bring a baby into the world, she said in her interview with People.
More than a year ago, she was feeling ill and a routine CT scan revealed her to have type 1 diabetes, a disease that runs in her family (her father and younger brother both have it). She then focused on her diet, monitored her glucose levels, and started taking insulin, which made her feel much better.
After months of feeling better, she started experiencing severe pains late last year. Her pains grew more severe, and she sought a whole-body MRI, which led to the discovery of the tumor on her pancreas. She underwent surgery to remove the mass and part of her pancreas, spleen, a large fibroid, and 17 lymph nodes.
But the good news is that she’s “fortunate” to have caught her pancreatic cancer early, according to Dr. James Farrell, who co-authored the new study.
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 64,050 Americans will have pancreatic cancer this year, and 50,550 people will die. And while it’s a rare form of cancer, it’s essential to catch it early, as it has a high mortality rate.
Symptoms can include diarrhea, abdominal or back pain, weight loss or a lump in the abdomen. It’s important to note that there are different types of pancreatic cancer, and some can be difficult to diagnose.
Women, especially those with a family history, are more likely to get pancreatic cancer. They’re also more likely to develop pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, which are less common but have a better prognosis.
While she is very thankful to have gotten this diagnosis early, Menounos also pointed out that screenings may not be the most effective way to detect this disease. “We have to look at how we can use technology more wisely,” she said. She added that she’s on a mission to encourage everyone to seek answers to their health problems.