Positivity and Gratitude Gives Cancer Warriors Hope
- TV host Maria Menounos, 45, says she's "so in love" in a new social media post as she continues adjusting to motherhood and her newborn daughter Athena Alexandra via surrogate.
- Menounos expressed gratitude after having dealt with a series of health challenges involving herself and her loved ones. Gratitude is a mindset that helps people face adversity and builds resilience.
- She revealed earlier this year that she battled stage 2 pancreatic cancer, which left her thinking she was a "goner" at the time of her diagnosis.
- Pancreatic cancer is known as the "silent" disease because symptoms rarely show up until it has advanced and metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body when more aggressive treatment is needed.
- 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.
TV host Maria Menounos, 45, is counting her blessings as she adjusts to motherhood. In her new Instagram post, she says she's "so in love" while reflecting on everything that's happened in her life from the birth of her daughter Athena to resiliently overcoming cancer.
"I'm so in love it's crazy," Menounos said in a new social media post partly dedicated to her new six-week-old daughter.
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Menounos finally getting the chance to experience motherhood is a milestone event for the beloved journalist. She spent a decade struggling with fertility until she and her husband Keven Undergaro, 55, were able to have a daughter via surrogate.
However, Menounos' journey has not been all joyous, she's dealt with adversity too.
"Mom gets a brain tumor, then me, two brain surgeries later, then both my parents are hospitalized with COVID, then I lost my mom, then I got diagnosed with type one diabetes, then a neuroendocrine tumor on my pancreasâ€¦some other crazy stuff in between too," Menounos continued in her post.
"Kev says I maybe roll too well with the punches, and I should sit back and acknowledge it all more," she added.
Despite the health challenges Menounos and her family were faced with, she says being able to survive through it all makes her "so grateful to be alive and to have thrived."
"To be here to enjoy this beautiful little girl. Thank you, God!" the proud new mom said.
No doubt, Menounos’s health journey has been marked by several milestones but thankfully she's reached a point where she can easily smile with her beautiful daughter in her arms.
Menounos' Resilient Journey
She is known for her infectious vibrant personality on-screen while hosting "Extra" and "E! News". Off-screen, the TV journalist has dealt with a series of health challenges.
In June 2017, she underwent a seven-hour brain surgery on her 39th birthday to remove a golf-ball-sized non-cancerous tumor, she explained to NBC's "Today."
Then, in 2021, Menounos' mom passed away from brain cancer.
In November 2022, Menounos started experiencing abdominal pain and diarrhea. An MRI and biopsy revealed the TV host had a stage 2 pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (NETs or islet cell tumor).
"I'm like 'How in the freaking world can I have a brain tumor and pancreatic cancer?' All I could think was that I have a baby coming," Menounos previously told People Magazine.
WATCH: Pancreatic cancer and early detection.
Menounos was lucky to catch the disease early. Pancreatic cancer, which begins in the pancreas, is known as the "silent disease."
Symptoms of the disease rarely show up until it has advanced and metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body.
"Unfortunately, pancreas cancer does not get diagnosed until later stages because it remains asymptomatic until it gets to the later stages," Dr. Syed Ahmad, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine said to WLWT News.
Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic explains that early-stage pancreatic cancer tumors typically don't appear on imaging scans.
When pancreatic cancer is diagnosed in later stages, which it most often is, it becomes more difficult to treat.
"I need people to know there are places they can go to catch things early," Menounos exclusively told People. "You can't let fear get in the way. I had that moment where I thought I was a gonerbut I'm okay because I caught this early enough."
She underwent surgery to have the tumor, her spleen, part of her pancreas, 17 lymph nodes, and a large fibroid removed this past February. Additionally, her doctor and surgeon said she will not need to undergo chemotherapy or other forms of treatment.
Menounos, who needs to get yearly scans for the next five years, is now incredibly "grateful" for being able to overcome cancer, adding, "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."
How Gratitude Can Change a Cancer Patient's Outlook on Life
Menounos taking the time to express her gratitude after enduring cancer is common among many people faced with cancer or chronic disease. Gratitude means being thankful for what you have and showing appreciation for it. It's a mindset that helps people go through tough times.
Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal cancer surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet that his patients who live with gratitude tend to handle treatment better because this attitude is one way to stay mentally healthy.
WATCH: Finding gratitude and its impact on your well-being.
"The patients who do well with cancer, they live life with that kind of gratitude, but in terms of everything," he explained. "They're grateful, not for cancer, but they're grateful for an opportunity to know that life is finite."
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, several studies have indicated that learning to live with gratitude can lead to more happiness and less stress.
One way to exercise gratitude is to take time to think about things you appreciate every day. One way to exercise gratitude in your life includes writing down those things in a journal.
Questions for Your Doctor
If you are facing a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, you may have questions but are unsure how to get the answers you need. SurvivorNet suggests asking your doctor the following to kickstart your journey to more solid answers.
- What type of pancreatic cancer do I have?
- Has my cancer spread beyond my pancreas? If so, where has it spread and what is the stage of the disease?
- What is my prognosis?
- What are my treatment options?
- What side effects should I expect after undergoing treatment?
- Will insurance cover my recommended treatment?