Hoda Kotb After Breast Cancer
- Hoda Kotb, 58, says she “will always have a special place in her heart” for former fiancé Joel Schiffman, 64.
- The couple broke up in December 2021, after eight years together and adopting two daughters, Haley Joy, 5, and Hope Catherine, 3.
- The breast cancer survivor was initially devastated at the effects of treatment on her fertility, but then chose to go the adoption route nearly a decade later.
- Kotb was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 42, and underwent a double mastectomy.
- Infertility can be a side effect of some cancer treatments, but there are numerous options for woman to start a family.
But Kotb says she feels “very peaceful” after the breakup while co-parenting their daughters.
In February 2017, Hoda and Joel adopted their first daughter, Haley. They adopted their second daughter, Hope, in April 2019.
In January, Kotb announced on Today’s fourth hour that she and Schiffman called off their engagement, revealing they were no longer together and planned to move forward as “friends and parents.”
Speaking recently with ‘People’, Kotb opened up about the relationship with Schiffman and their new lives as co-parents.
“He’s a great dad — but I also know I’m on the right road,” she told the outlet.
Kotb also said she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I don’t regret one day, not one minute, not one second of our time together because it brought me here,” Hoda said to the magazine.
“It’s because of Joel that I have Haley and Hope, without question. I think I might have been too afraid to do it alone. That’s not something I love to admit, but it’s true,” she said.
The ‘I Really Needed This Today’ author also told Good Housekeeping in April that Schiffman gave her the courage to adopt.
“I don’t think I would’ve adopted if it hadn’t been for Joel,” Kotb said at the time. “Having a stable relationship in that moment was really important. Once that fell into place, it didn’t seem as scary to me.”
Hoda has previously revealed that she had a longtime dream of becoming a mother.
But when she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 42 and underwent treatment, she was informed that she wouldn’t be able to bear children.
As for dating again, Kotb says she’s confident there will eventually be another special someone.
“I’ve had past loves, and I feel like I’ll have future loves,” she told People. “Once you know who you are all the way, then love can come in. You know how people say the older you get, the more you know who you are? I think someone who meets me now will meet me for real.”
Hoda Kotb’s Breast Cancer Journey
Although everything has worked out for Kotb as far as becoming a mother, she had to deal with the heartbreak of a cancer diagnosis and fertility struggles before she could get to where she is today.
Kotb received her breast cancer diagnosis after doctors discovered lumps in her breast tissue during a routine exam. She was 43 at the time and underwent a mastectomy and reconstruction followed by five years of taking the drug tamoxifen (Nolvadex).
“Cancer shaped me, but it did not define me. It’s part of me, but not all of me,” Kotb said at an annual Breast Cancer Research Foundation New York Symposium and Awards Luncheon in 2017.
She’s still cancer-free today, but Kotb has since opened up about her fertility struggles following her breast cancer battle.
“I remember that my oncologist called, and we were talking about freezing my eggs,” Kotb told Good Housekeeping. “She basically said that given my age and (my breast cancer treatment), it was pretty close to a dead-end.”
Her reaction was, understandably, filled with sorrow. And at that moment, she doubted she’d ever realize her dream of becoming a mother.
“I was in my room, and I just sobbed. I thought, ‘Well, that’s that, isn’t it?,’” Kotb said. “Like, you almost blame yourself. ‘Why didn’t I do this? Why didn’t I do that?’ So I just pushed it away because the reality seemed impossible to bear.
“How do you survive knowing you can’t have what you desire and what you feel like you actually physically need?”
Dr. Terri Woodard discusses your options for preserving fertility after a cancer diagnosis
Fertility and Cancer Treatment
Infertility can be a side effect of some cancer treatments, but there are options to consider. Fertility preservation, for example, is available to women of childbearing age. Options for women include:
Egg and embryo freezing (the most common practice)
Ovarian tissue freezing
Ovarian suppression to prevent the eggs from maturing so that they cannot be damaged during treatment.
Ovarian transposition, for women getting radiation to the pelvis, to move the ovaries out of the line of treatment.
No matter what course of action you choose to take, it is important that all women feel comfortable discussing their options prior to cancer treatment.
In a previous conversation with SurvivorNet, Dr. Jaime Knopman, a reproductive endocrinologist at CCRM NY, says time is precious when dealing with fertility preservation for women with cancer. In other words, the sooner the better when it comes to having these important fertility conversations with your doctor.
“The sooner we start, the sooner that patient can then go on and do their treatment,” Dr. Knopman said. “A lot of the success comes down to how old you are at the time you froze and the quality of the lab in which your eggs or embryos are frozen in.”
When it comes to breast cancer patients specifically, there are some unique challenges for women with the disease. Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, outlines them in a previous interview with SurvivorNet:
Young women who need chemotherapy could have their fertility significantly affected because many chemotherapy drugs can damage a woman’s eggs.
If women are on a medication to stop the hormones which feed their specific kind of breast cancer, they may not be able to get pregnant for several years – in some instances 10 years.
Many stage four breast cancers need estrogen to grow.
Pregnancy is a very, very high hormonal state, so it’s not recommended in these cases.