Katie Couric Reveals Breast Cancer Diagnosis In Touching Essay
The media mogul sought treatment over the summer after a routine mammogram.
Katie Couric’s summer began on a somber note when, after a routine mammogram in June, she learned she had breast cancer.
“I felt sick and the room started to spin,” Couric, 65, wrote in an essay on her website, detailing the moment she learned of her diagnosis at work. “I was in the middle of an open office, so I walked to a corner and spoke quietly, my mouth unable to keep up with the questions swirling in my head. What does this mean? Will I need a mastectomy? Will I need chemo? What will the next weeks, months, even years look like?”
Couric is no stranger to the heartbreak of cancer as her first husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998 at age 42 and, three years later, her sister Emily Couric died of pancreatic cancer at age 54. (She is now married to financier John Molner.) The journalist and former Today show host said she had a “heart-stopping, suspended animation feeling” when she learned of her own diagnosis — especially when considering how her daughters, Elinor, 31, and Caroline, 26, would take the news.
“I didn’t want to call Ellie and Carrie until I had a better idea of my prognosis,” Couric wrote. “Finally, four days after I was diagnosed, I FaceTimed each of them. I tried to be as reassuring as Dr. [Lisa] Newman. Their faces froze in disbelief. Then shock. Then they began to cry. ‘Don’t worry,’ I told Carrie then Ellie, ‘I’m going to be fine,’ trying to convince myself as well as them.”
“They’d already lost one parent,” she continued. “The idea of losing another was unfathomable.”
Couric had a lumpectomy on July 14 and her lymph nodes came back clean. Surgery was followed by radiation and medication, something called an “aromatase inhibitor” which she needs to take for five years.
“Throughout the process, I kept thinking about two things: How lucky I was to have access to such incredible care, since so many people don’t. And how lucky I was to be the beneficiary of such amazing technology. It made me feel grateful and guilty — and angry that there’s a de facto caste system when it comes to healthcare in America,” she wrote.
Couric, who was very vocal about colon cancer following Monahan’s death, said she’s sharing her story to motivate other women to get their annual breast exams. (Her on-air colonoscopy in 2000 led to an increase in colon cancer screenings.)
“I was six months late this time. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had put it off longer,” Couric wrote of her mammogram, explaining in her essay that 85 percent of the 264,000 American women who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in this country have no family history.
“But just as importantly, please find out if you need additional screening,” she continued. “Forty-five percent of women in this country (yes, nearly half) have dense breasts, which can make it difficult for mammograms alone to detect abnormalities.”
Couric is set to share more from her journey as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She will further be detailing her own diagnosis, as well as the latest diagnostic tools, treatments, and prevention strategies, on Katie Couric Media platforms.
Read her full essay here.