Keeping Your Cancer Battle Private
- More than a year after announcing her brain cancer diagnosis, former Fox Nation host Britt McHenry is back on the field — where she “thrives.”
- On Sept. 19, she posted to Instagram for the first time in more than a year with an update about how she’s doing post-cancer diagnosis, and everything seems to be going well for her.
- Battling cancer is an extremely personal experience, and so is choosing who to tell about your diagnosis.
On Sept. 19, she posted to Instagram for the first time in more than a year with an update about how she’s doing post-cancer diagnosis, and everything seems to be going well for her.Read More
“Let this be a reminder: No matter what adversity you face or obstacles you overcome … you’re stronger than what you’re facing. Love y’all.”
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Britt McHenry’s Cancer Diagnosis
McHenry was originally trying to keep her diagnosis under wraps, which many in the SurvivorNet community can certainly understand. But when news of her health leaked online in February 2020, she decided to take control of the narrative.
She shared with her supporters that a tumor was found on her brain; she added that she would be having surgery. She said that her doctors believe the tumor was cancerous, but it was unknown at the time.
“I was trying to keep this relatively private. But as usual, things are being said without my consent,” she shared on Twitter last year. However, a few days earlier, she hinted at her challenges online. “I had good & bad news today,” she posted.
I was trying to keep this relatively private. But as usual, things are being said without my consent.
I have a brain tumor. I’m with an amazing medical team and surgery is imminent. Thank you for continued support and understanding at this time.
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) February 27, 2020
I had good & bad news today. Overwhelmed by the support by friends & strangers alike. With the best surgeons and doctors. Just another thing to take on 💪🏼.
Please I can’t stress enough, make your check-ups. Get an MRI early. It could have saved me.
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) February 26, 2020
Britt McHenry shared an update about her health in April 2020, just after she had surgery for her brain cancer. She disclosed that a tumor was found in her left frontal lobe, and it was “very large.”
“I struggled a bit emotionally with that quick turn of events later,” she posted on Instagram about the surgery. “The headaches I had attributed to stress from hard stuff I was experiencing were actually brain tumor symptoms. It had grown so large, it was near my eyes and the headaches involved vomiting.”
She also shared that a chiropractor suggested she get an MRI, which caught her cancer. “I will always be grateful to him,” she says.
“My next MRI is in early May,” she wrote. “I’m back to work (from home) on TV. Medicine and prayer are both amazing things. Will be eternally thankful to the world class surgeon and the medical team.”
McHenry was a commentator on Fox Nation and hosted Un-PC, a show on the streaming service. However, she parted ways with Fox over the summer after settling a lawsuit with the television network over a sexual harassment claim she filed in December 2019. In the lawsuit, she claimed that Tyrus, her former co-host, engaged in inappropriate behavior. That behavior included what’s been described as sexually charged text messages. McHenry is now a host for WTTG/FOX 5 News in Washington, D.C. Before her time with Fox Nation, she was at ESPN for four years.
Keeping Your Cancer Battle Private: McHenry’s Decision
While she’s since shared a lot of details about her diagnosis, the stage and type of cancer McHenry has is unknown as she never released that information to the public. This was most likely done in an effort to keep as much of her diagnosis as possible private, considering she didn’t even want to share that she was sick in the first place.
She ended up disclosing most of her cancer journey on social media, but it’s unclear if she would’ve shared if she wasn’t forced to correct the narrative caused by the rumors about her health that were circulating last year.
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Battling cancer is an extremely personal experience, and so is choosing to whom you want to disclose your diagnosis. For some people, it’s a no-brainer to share their struggle and absorb as much support as possible, while for others, sharing the news doesn’t come so easy.
Dr. Marianna Strongin, a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Strong In Therapy Psychology, tells SurvivorNet that whether someone shares this heavy news is their personal preference.
“I recommend sharing, I’m a therapist,” Strongin says with a laugh, “but to whom and how many people is up to the person (with cancer).”
From a psychological stance, “the more that we share, the less likely we are to feel shame, and shame is quite toxic; it makes us feel alone and it makes us feel like there’s something wrong with us,” she says. “In that instance, it’s better to share; sharing is more connecting.”
Regardless of what you decide, “everyone should focus on what makes them feel good,” Strongin says.
Not All Brain Tumors Are Cancerous
Naturally, a lot of people think “cancer” when they hear the word tumor. However, most brain tumors aren’t actually cancerous. Less than one third (about 32%) of brain tumors are considered malignant (cancerous), according to the American Brain Tumor Association.
If a tumor is made up of normal-looking cells, then the tumor is benign. But these tumors may still require treatment, such as surgery. Because of this, they are often referred to as “non-malignant,” since the word benign can be misleading.
The most common type of non-malignant brain tumors are meningiomas, however, there are 120 different types of brain and central nervous system tumors, according to ABTA.
Oftentimes after an MRI, a biopsy will be performed on a brain tumor to determine its type. Sometimes, the results of imaging tests show that a tumor is likely to be non-malignant, and a biopsy is not necessary. Britt McHenry didn’t disclose whether or not she had a biopsy, simply stating that her tumor would be removed with surgery.
Contributing: Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore