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 show “Today,” Couric was given an airborne colonoscopy to encourage viewers to do the same. Studies have shown that the segment led to a significant increase in colonoscopies; in Wednesday’s post, Couric said the rate is up 20 percent.
More than a decade ago, Couric co-founded the Stand Up to Cancer organization. In 2018, she accompanied television host Jimmy Kimmel to his first colonoscopy, which he also broadcast on his late-night show.
In addition to Monahan, Couric’s sister Emily and mother-in-law Carol died of various cancers. Couric stated that “there were better outcomes for others in my family,” including her mother, who “kept non-Hodgkin lymphoma at bay for ten years,” 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 cancer, but no one in my family had ever had breast cancer,” she recalls her reaction to her diagnosis. “During that 24-hour whirlwind, I learned that 85 percent of the 264,000 American women diagnosed each year in this country have no family history. I clearly still had a lot to learn.”
Couric said she had a tumor removed from her breast in mid-July and started radiation treatment a few weeks ago. Tuesday marked her final round: “I was warned that I might be fatigued and my skin might turn a little pink. … My left breast looks like I’ve been sunbathing topless, but otherwise I felt fine,” she wrote.
In the same vein as actress Jane Fonda announced her diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma this month, Couric noted how “lucky” she felt to have access to quality care. She felt “grateful and guilty — and angry that there is a de facto caste system when it comes to health care in America.”
She closed 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 additional screenings.
“To reap the benefits of modern medicine,” she wrote, “we need to follow our screenings, advocate for ourselves, and make sure everyone has access to the diagnostic tools that could very well save their lives.”