Katie Couric Got a Call, Then 'the Room Started to Spin'

Journalist reveals breast cancer diagnosis and surgery, urges others to get checked
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2022 10:15 AM CDT
Katie Couric Got a Call, Then 'the Room Started to Spin'
Katie Couric appears at the Vanity Fair Oscar party on March 27 in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

On her eighth wedding anniversary, Katie Couric found out she had breast cancer. "I felt sick and the room started to spin," the former TV anchor writes of the day, June 21, on her Katie Couric Media website. Her doctor had told her she was overdue for a mammogram during a pap smear the previous month. Her last had been in December 2020. The 65-year-old, who wondered whether the pandemic had "messed with my memory," hadn't realized, despite her being a longtime advocate of preventative cancer screenings since losing her first husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998, per USA Today.

At her mammogram appointment, she asked the technician to film the process, with plans to broadcast it later. But after the mammogram and a breast ultrasound—Couric explains her breasts are dense, so additional screening is helpful—her doctor asked that the camera be turned off. Having found an anomaly in Couric's left breast, the doctor ordered a biopsy, and Couric learned it was cancer the following day. "The heart-stopping, suspended animation feeling I remember all too well came flooding back: Jay's colon cancer diagnosis at 41 and the terrifying, gutting nine months that followed," she writes, per CNN. "My sister Emily's pancreatic cancer, which would later kill her at 54."

Luckily, Couric learned her cancer—in the form of a tumor, "roughly the size of an olive"—was "highly treatable" with surgery and radiation, which she completed Tuesday. She'll now need to take an aromatase inhibitor for five years. But "I shudder to think what might have happened if I had put [the mammogram] off longer," she writes, urging annual checks and additional screening if needed. She notes 45% of American women have dense breasts, "which can make it difficult for mammograms alone to detect abnormalities." However, most states don't require that insurance companies cover the cost of "potentially lifesaving breast ultrasounds"—something her doctor finds "disgraceful." (More Katie Couric stories.)

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