Katie Couric announced Wednesday that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June and underwent surgery and radiation treatment. In a first-person essay posted on 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 screening since her first husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998 at age 42. In 2000, while working for the “Today” show, Couric got a colonoscopy on air to encourage viewers to do the same. The study found that this segment led to a significant increase in colonoscopies; In Wednesday’s post, Couric said the rate had increased by 20 percent.
A decade ago, Couric co-founded the organization Stand Up to Cancer. In 2018, she visited television host Jimmy Kimmel for his first colonoscopy, which he broadcast on his late night show.
In addition to Monahan, Couric’s sister Emily and mother-in-law Carol also died of different cancers. Couric said “there were good outcomes for the rest of my family,” including her mother, who had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma “for a decade,” and her father, who had prostate cancer. Couric’s current husband, John Molnar, 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 in colon and pancreatic cancer, but no one in my family had ever had breast cancer,” she recalled of her response to her diagnosis. Of the 264,000 American women diagnosed each year, 85 percent 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 might be tired and my skin might turn a bit pink. … My left breast looks like I’m sunbathing topless, but other than that I feel 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 receive quality care. She felt “grateful and guilty — and angry that America has a real caste system when it comes to healthcare.”
She ended the post by urging readers to schedule their annual mammograms, which she missed by just six months, to find out if they need additional screenings.
“To reap the benefits of modern medicine, we need to stay on top of our screening, advocate for ourselves, and ensure that everyone has access to diagnostic tools that could very well save their lives,” she wrote.