Katie Couric announced Wednesday that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June and has undergone surgery and radiation treatment. In a first-person essay posted to her website, the news media personality, 65, said she received the Stage 1 diagnosis after missing an annual mammogram.
Couric has been a public advocate for preventive screenings since her first husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998, when he was 42 years old. In 2000, while working for the “Today” show, Couric got a colonoscopy on air to encourage viewers to do so as well. Studies found that the segment led to a considerable rise in colonoscopies; in Wednesday’s post, Couric said the rate rose by 20 percent.
More than a decade ago, Couric co-founded the organization Stand Up to Cancer. In 2018, she accompanied television host Jimmy Kimmel to his first colonoscopy, which he also aired on his late-night show.
In addition to Monahan, Couric’s sister Emily and mother-in-law Carol died of different cancers. Couric stated that “there were better outcomes for others in my family,” including her mother, who kept non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma “at bay for a decade,” and her father, who had prostate cancer. Couric’s current husband, John Molner, had a tumor removed from his liver shortly before their wedding in 2014.
“But breast cancer — that was a new one; I had practically become an expert on colon and pancreatic cancers, but no one in my family had ever had breast cancer,” she recalled of her response to her diagnosis. “During that 24-hour whirlwind, I found out that 85 percent of the 264,000 American women who are diagnosed every year in this country have no family history. I clearly had a lot to learn.”
Couric said she had a tumor removed from her breast in mid-July and began radiation a few weeks ago. Tuesday marked her final round: “I was warned that I may be fatigued and my skin may turn a little pink. … My left breast does look like I’ve been sunbathing topless, but other than that, I’ve felt fine,” she wrote.
Striking a similar tone to when actress Jane Fonda announced her non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis this month, Couric noted how “lucky” she felt to have access to quality care. She felt “grateful and guilty — and angry that there’s a de facto caste system when it comes to healthcare in America.”
She concluded the post by urging readers to schedule their annual mammograms, which she missed by just six months, and to find out if they might need to get additional screenings.
“To reap the benefits of modern medicine,” she wrote, “we need to stay on top of our screenings, advocate for ourselves, and make sure everyone has access to the diagnostic tools that could very well save their life.”