Maria Menounos Shares Pancreatic Cancer Symptoms Her Doctors Dismissed

The veteran journalist said she hopes to remind people to "be the CEO of your health” by detailing her experience.

Maria Menounos is hoping to use her experience with pancreatic cancer to remind others why it’s important to “be the CEO of your health.”

The television journalist, who is now cancer-free, first addressed her diagnosis in a poignant interview with People magazine. In a follow-up chat with “Today,” she said she was only able to detect her disease early after pushing back against her doctors’ initial assurances.

Menounos said her diagnosis came after learning she had Type 1 diabetes, which runs in her family, last June. Just months later, however, she began experiencing “excruciating” abdominal pain after eating a farro salad on an airplane, prompting her to assume she’d developed gluten intolerance.

But by November, she said, the pain had returned along with “loose stool,” or diarrhea, for about a month and a half.

Watch Maria Menounos’ “Today” appearance below.

“I did all the appropriate things ― I did all the stool tests; nothing came back,” Menounos explained to host Hoda Kotb. “Went to the hospital, they did a CAT scan. Everything was unremarkable, and anytime I complained about it thereafter, it was like: ‘Well, we just scanned, and everything was fine.’”

Still convinced that “something was wrong,” the former “Extra” and “E! News” host opted for a full-body MRI, which revealed stage 2 pancreatic cancer, in January.

“[My radiologist] goes, ‘You need to go to the hospital right away,’ and he’s white as a ghost and he’s shaking,” she recalled. “My eyes started to well, and I just look at him and go: ‘So I’m a goner.’”

A subsequent biopsy determined that Menounos had a stage 2 neuroendocrine pancreatic tumor, which is less deadly than the more common pancreatic cancer diagnosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Keven Undergaro and Maria Menounos are expecting their first child together.
Keven Undergaro and Maria Menounos are expecting their first child together.
Albert L. Ortega via Getty Images

Regardless, the diagnosis took an emotional toll.

“All that kept flashing through my head was my baby,” Menounos said of the child she is expecting with her husband, Keven Undergaro.

Menounos underwent surgery to remove the tumor ― along with the tail of her pancreas, her entire spleen, 17 lymph nodes and a uterine fibroid “the size of a baby” ― in February. Though her subsequent recovery has been “painful,” she doesn’t require additional treatment beyond annual scans for the next five years.

Still, she hopes to carry the wisdom of her experience into her latest professional endeavor as the host of “Heal Squad,” a podcast dedicated to physical health, emotional wellness, relationships and other topics.

“I want to sound the alarms to everybody that you have to be the CEO of your health,” she said. “You cannot give that over to anybody. That job is yours. You know your body. You know what’s going on.”

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