Maria Menounos opens up about "unbelievable" brain tumor diagnosis, steps down from job at E!
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 07/03/2017
Maria Menounos has revealed she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and will step down from her position as co-anchor of E! News.
The former Chasing Maria Menounos star opened up about her own battle with a brain tumor as she's caring for her mother, who has brain cancer in its fourth stage.
During an interview with People, Maria recalled the moments in which her health crisis began shortly before her 39th birthday in June.
"This [past] February, I thought I had an ear infection so I went to a doctor, and he said, 'Your ears are the cleanest things I've ever seen. What else are you feeling?' I'd been getting lightheaded on set and having headaches," Maria explained to People.
"My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter. I said, 'I know you're going to think I'm crazy, but I think I have a brain tumor like my mom.' He said, 'I don't think you're crazy. Let's just get an MRI.' The next week I started feeling better, so I was like, 'I'm clearly paranoid.' So I kept pushing the MRI."
Maria reportedly completed the scan three months later and learned of her brain tumor, a golf-ball-size meningioma tumor that was pushing on her facial nerves.
"I didn't cry. I actually laughed," Maria recalled. "It's so surreal and crazy and unbelievable that my mom has a brain tumor -- and now I have one too?"
Maria then made an appointment with her mother's doctor, neurosurgeon Dr. Keith L. Black, who reportedly scheduled her for surgery on June 8, the day she was turning 39-years-old.
"He said, 'I'm 98 percent sure it's benign but we won't know until we get in there,'" Maria told the magazine.
Maria relied on her fiance Keven Undergaro -- whom she got engaged to in March 2016 after more than 18 years of dating -- for support and comfort.
The complex surgery took about seven hours, according to People, but the doctor was able to remove 99.9 percent of the tumor, which was, in fact, benign.
"He said, 'There's a six to seven percent chance that we'll see it come back,' but I'll take those odds any day," Maria admitted.
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Following a six-day hospital stay, Maria was able to return home and spend time with her family, including her mother Litsa, whose latest MRI shows that her cancer is stable.
"I don't have my balance fully yet but as long as I'm holding on to Keven, I'm sturdy and fine," Maria insisted. "My face is still numb. This is something that takes at least a month of healing, but I'm getting stronger and stronger every day and I'll be back to normal very soon."
Maria, who placed fourth on Season 14 of Dancing with the Stars and also previously wrestled for the WWE, actually called her health crisis a "blessing" because it brought her family closer together and allowed the women in her clan to finally put themselves first.
"I tell people all the time if your car is making a weird noise, you take it to the mechanic. How come when our body is making weird noises, we ignore it? I'm so lucky that I went to the doctor and raised the alarm," Maria said.
In a Monday, July 3 Instagram post, Maria shared a picture of herself kissing her mother's head with the following caption: "First I wanna say thank you all for the well wishes, prayers and support. It's been a crazy time here in our home. I want you all to know that I'm ok! Seriously I'm recovering well and should be as good as new very very soon! Luckily I don't need any further treatments but I can't say the same about my mom. So please keep her in your prayers."
Due to this battle, Maria stepped down from her job as co-anchor at E!, which she's held since 2015 after joining the network in 2014.
"I am so grateful for the past three years at E!, I had such an amazing time co-hosting with Jason Kennedy and working everyday with the wonderful roster of talent on the show including producers, staff and crew," Maria said in a media statement.
"It was such a special, good-hearted group and one I'll always consider family. A special thank you to Frances Berwick and Adam Stotsky for all the support they have shown me through the years especially during these tough times. I will truly miss everyone and looking forward to this next chapter in my life."
Adam Stotsky, President of E! Entertainment, added that everyone is wishing Maria the best and believes she will "tackle this with the same fierce dedication she is known for."
Chasing Maria Menounos aired only one season in Spring 2014 on Oxygen.