Finding Strength During a Health Challenge
- Resilient breast cancer survivor Hoda Kotb, 58, has been absent from “TODAY” for a “family health matter.”
- We don’t know the details, but Kotb knows what it’s like to face a health challenge with strength.
- Kotb was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2007 at 43 after doctors discovered lumps in her breast tissue during a routine exam.
- She received a mastectomy and reconstruction and was given the drug tamoxifen, which works to prevent estrogen from helping cancer cells to grow. She is now cancer-free.
- Kotb also struggled with fertility after cancer. Certain breast cancer medication can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant. But Kotb is now the mom she wanted to be after adopting two beautiful girls, Haley and Hope.
We don’t know too much about the specific situation for Kotb, 58, but her colleagues did provide a short update about how she’s doing.Read More
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A few days ago, Kotb also posted an image to Instagram with the words “Choose Hope.” Hope just so happens to be the name of her other daughter, so the message is certainly an inspiring statement.
Many friends and fans commented to show their support including her “TODAY” colleague and fellow cancer survivor Al Roker, 68.
“Love you all,” he wrote.
Roker knows what it’s like to have a solid support system around him that includes his work friends. The prostate cancer survivor had to take his own time off from the show not too long ago to treat a blood clot. During his recovery, the whole “TODAY” crew with Kotb up in front surprised him at his home to sing him a Christmas carol.
“We love you so much Al,” Kotb said after they finished their rendition of “Jingle Bells.”
Even though we don’t know what Kotb is dealing with, it’s nice to see that these anchors seem to have eachother’s backs.
Hoda Kotb’s Strength Through Cancer
Hoda Kotb was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2007. The news came when she was 43 after doctors found lumps in her breast tissue during a routine exam.
For treatment, Kotb 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.
Tamoxifen is a selective estrogen receptor modulator which means it works to prevent estrogen from helping cancer cells to grow. It is also used to prevent breast cancer among women who are high-risk for breast cancer because of family history.
Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer typically take tamoxifen for five to 10 years (with evidence that taking it for 10 years is more effective). Side effects of tamoxifen can mimic menopause (like hot flashes), but they can be managed. Tamoxifen is a commitment. Tamoxifen, when taken alone or in combination with chemotherapy, reduces the chance of having a breast cancer spread.
Hoda Kotb’s Fertility Journey After Cancer
She's cancer-free today, but Kotb has since talked about her fertility struggles following the breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
"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."
Kotb was, understandably, heartbroken. 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?"
"It's incredibly important that patients feel comfortable talking to their doctor about these very personal issues," says Dr. Elizabeth Comen, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a medical advisor to SurvivorNet.
It’s certainly possible for a woman to have a baby after receiving treatment for breast cancer. However, that may depend on the type of cancer and the kind of treatment. Many chemotherapy drugs, can damage a woman's eggs. And medication that stops the hormones that feed a woman’s specific type of breast cancer can make it difficult for her to get pregnant for many years (sometimes 10).
Dr. Comen encourages you to have an open discussion with your doctor early in your cancer journey to talk about your options, which may include egg or embryo freezing.
Kotb didn’t let that stop her from becoming the mom she wanted to be.
Fast forward to today, and the ever-resilient Kotb loves taking care of her two adopted girls. She thanks her ex-fianceÌ, Joel Schiffman, for providing the support she needed to become a mother.
"I don't think I would've adopted if it hadn't been for Joel," she said of Schiffman. "Having a stable relationship in that moment was really important. Once that fell into place, it didn't seem as scary to me."