Maria Menounos' Pancreatic Cancer Battle
- TV host Maria Menounos, 45, shared sweet photos from a friend’s wedding in a new social media post as she continues adjusting to life as a mom to her newborn daughter Athena Alexandra, whom she had via surrogate.
- It’s great to see Menounos celebrating the joys of life after having dealt with a series of health challenges, including an approximate-10 year struggle with fertility, involving herself and her loved ones.
- She revealed earlier this year that she battled stage 2 pancreatic cancer.
- Fortunately, since Menounos’ cancer was found in its early stages, she was able to get the tumor, her spleen, part of her pancreas, 17 lymph nodes, and a large fibroid removed via surgery in February.
Weddings mark such a joyous time in life as loved ones gather to celebrate the special couple’s love-filled journey together, so it’s no wonder why wedding guests want to attend such a milestone event, especially after the health and fertility journey Menounos has endured.Read More
“Derek and Haley Hough 2023. A wedding in the redwood forest. It was beautiful, intimate, full of love, light and fun,” the Greek-American journalist captioned her most recent Instagram post recounting the memorable wedding. “Jaw dropping at ever turn!”View this post on Instagram
“Wishing them all the best on this journey together and grateful to be part of witnessing their union!” she continued, “Love you both!
Menounos attended the event wearing an off-the-shoulder black and nude lace dress by Monique Lhuillier, featuring a high slit showing offing one of her legs, high heels, a stylish black purse, and sophisticated jewelry.
Despite the health challenges Menounos has been faced, the TV presenter who has hosted “Extra” and “E! News” joyously and confidently stood tall in her photos from the fun-filled event.
Menounos also shared a group photo of her smiling alongside other attendees of the event, three-time Olympic Gold medalist Shaun White, Canadian actress Nina Dobrev, comedian Shaun Johnson’s wife Nicole, Derek Hough’s sister Julianne Hough, athlete Daniel Gale, and para-snowboarder Amy Purdy.
Derek Hough and Hayley Erbert’s wedding took place in Monterey County, California, in August, with 106 of their loved ones in attendance.
Recounting the event to People, Erbert said: “We’re in a redwood forest, but we got married right in front of this mother tree that’s surrounded by all these smaller trees.
“They drop all the seeds, and it plants kind of like an army of children to protect the mother. The symbolism of it was beautiful. We’re here, planting our seeds to grow our family.”
The beautiful scenery and large trees could be seen in the background of Menounos’ photos recapping the event.
Erbert told the entertainment news outlet that her reception was held in a 100-year-old barn, dubbing the style “regal” but “rustic.”
Other notable friends of the celebrity couple who attended the charming event were Indian actress Freida Pinto, Shark Tank investor Robert Herjavec and his wife Kym, and actor Alfonso Ribeiro, known for as his role as Carlton Banks “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
“When we were thinking about location we asked ourselves, ‘What’s important to us?'” Hough told People. “Nature was the first thing. We want to be around trees and plants and Northern California kind of spoke out to us. We just want people to experience this place that we love, this nature, but also, it just feels incredibly romantic.”
We’re delighted to see Menounos making time for those she cares about and making the most out of life after hardship.
View this post on Instagram
Finding Joy After Cancer
Maria Menounos is a perfect example of how cancer doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks and we’re so happy to see her doing the things she loves and spending time with friends and family. Evelyn Reyes-Beato also knows how to live life as best she can amid adversity.
Reyes-Beato previously opened up to SurvivorNet about how she was really thrown through a loop when she was diagnosed with colon cancer.
Before her diagnosis, she was planning to go back to school – but the diagnoses completely threw her off track.
She said, “When I got cancer, I was like f*ck that, I’m not going to waste what’s left of my life going to school. If I’m gonna die, I’m not gonna die at school. I’m gonna die on a beach, I’m gonna die in the Bahamas, in Paris, in Australia … somewhere, but I’m not gonna die in school.”
Eventually, Evelyn realized that she could still achieve her goals, even with cancer. She found the things that brought her joy in life – “my husband, my doggies, my brother, my family” – and kept on living for that joy.And she ended up going back to school as well.
Maria Menounos’ Fertility Struggles & Surrogacy
Maria Menounos had been struggling with starting a family prior to the birth of her daughter back in June 23, 2023.
Back in 2021, in an interview with TODAY, the TV host said, “I lost my mom, we lost our dog and then losing the surrogate was a loss. Trying to have kids in the midst of that would have been a lot. And so we believe that it’s God protecting us. And it’s going to happen at that right time.”
Menounos had been on the hunt for a surrogate and at one point had found one she liked, but things didn’t work out.
“We had an amazing surrogate and we loved her,” she told the news outlet. “But our fertility doctor told us that it was never going to work. We tried and tried and tried and tried.”
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Menounos explained that she and her husband were trying to remain hopeful despite the long process of finding the right surrogate.
“I’m going to have to continue to go with the flow and trust that God has a plan for me. I just got to surrender to it. I’ve gotten pretty good at it,” she said.
“That was a big thing I’ve learned along the way. If you believe there’s a plan for you whether it’s the universe or god, you have to go through the motions; you have to do things that make sense: you got to go work, you got to do all these things. It’s like no matter what we do, sometimes the things that we want is just not the right time. Everything has its season and its moments.”
However, Menounos remained positive, kept her faith, and didn’t give up, leading her to where she is today, a mom to her beautiful daughter via a surrogate.
Menounos, who received help from Family Match Consulting and started IVF treatments back in 2012, told People in 2022, “I definitely didn’t think it was going to take this long. It’s been years. We’ve used different services, different people. It’s just been a very frustrating process.”
IVF stands for in vitro fertilization, a process in which a woman’s eggs are retrieved from her body and fertilized with sperm in a lab. The embryo can then be implanted into the mother or a surrogate.
Maria Menounos’ Health Challenges
Earlier this year was the first time Maria Menounos went public about her battle with stage two pancreatic cancer, following her 2017 brain tumor scare, her mom’s passing from brain cancer, and her fertility struggles.
Leading up to her pancreatic cancer diagnosis, Menounos began suffering from major leg cramps in June 2022, a symptom which resulted in her going to the hospital, where she learned she had type 1 diabetes (something both her dad and younger brother also have).
Her diabetes diagnosis then led her to be prescribed insulin and change her diet, which left her feeling better by October.
However, in November 2022, she ended up back in the hospital with “excruciating abdominal pain” and “diarrhea.” Despite what she was experiencing, doctors told her everything was “fine” with her body, but weeks later, she began feeling as if “someone was tearing my insides out.”
A whole-body MRI and a biopsy revealed she had a stage 2 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, a type of cancer that forms in the pancreas, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Thankfully, due to Menounos’ cancer being discovered somewhat early, she was able to get the tumor, her spleen, part of her pancreas, 17 lymph nodes, and a large fibroid removed via surgery on Feb. 16 of this year.
Additionally, her doctor and surgeon said she will not need to undergo chemotherapy or other forms of treatment.
Menounos, who must continue getting yearly scans for the next five years, said on social media that there were some “tough days,” but she was “grateful” for the good ones and being able to overcome cancer.
“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,” she said.
Meanwhile, Menounos’ mom, Litsa Menounos, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, one of the most common and most aggressive brain cancers, back in 2016 when she was 61 years old.
While Menounos was caring for her mother, she began noticing strange symptoms like ear pain, dizziness, and blurred vision. She told her mother’s doctor, thinking she was crazy that she was having similar issues.
But following an MRI, they discovered a golf ball-sized benign (non-cancerous) tumor in Maria’s brain.
Menounos ultimately underwent a 7-hour brain surgery on her 39th birthday in June 2017. And in May 2021, her mom passed from brain cancer.
How to be Resilient in the Face of Adversity
Menounos’ health journey had an impact on strengthening her resilience in the face of adversity. She’s been hit with cancer, her mom’s passing, and fertility struggles. However, she’s still holding her head high while boasting a smile, and is ever-so grateful for her daughter she was blessed with just a few months ago.
Resilience is an important trait to have in the face of adversity such as cancer.
SurvivorNet spotlighted this important cancer-fighting trait in the film “Resilience,” now streaming on SurvivorNet. It follows the lives of three athletes who are living with a health challenge yet overcame adversity.
You can build resilience the way you build muscle through patience and steady exercise of the skill. Here are some lessons taken from Fischer, Runkel, and Soller:
- Be willing to learn. If one way doesn’t work, find a different way. If an obstacle lands in your way, build a path around it or over it.
- Spend time with people who inspire you.
- Allow yourself to grieve. Don’t push away or dismiss your frustration and sadness. Give yourself grace when your emotions run high.
- Be flexible. Understand there are multiple ways to accomplish a goal. If your original method does not work, find another.
- Lean into your community. Consider using your support group made up of your friends, colleagues, and family. Remember when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed by a problem, their support can carry you.
WATCH: Resilience: Staying Positive Despite Adversity
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff