breast cancer

Katie Couric Opens Up About Breast-Cancer Diagnosis

Photo: Mike Windle/2016 Getty Images

On Wednesday, journalist Katie Couric revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram over the summer. “Please get your annual mammogram,” Couric wrote in a personal essay for Katie Couric Media. “I was six months late this time. I shudder to think what might have happened if I put it off longer.”

Couric — who lost her first husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998 — wrote that she was “normally vigilant” about scheduling mammograms and was surprised when her gynecologist told her that she hadn’t had one since 2020. Couric, who famously filmed her colonoscopy for the Today show in 2000 to encourage her audience to schedule theirs, said she had hoped to do the same while at her breast radiologist’s office in June. “I handed my phone to a technician and asked if she could film me (in a very PG kind of way) as one by one, my breasts were squished between two plastic trays,” she wrote, adding that she usually gets additional screening done because she has dense breast tissue, which increases the risk of cancer. Per Couric, the appointment began lighthearted, with her “cracking jokes and making faces to the camera” before a doctor asked her to stop filming, explaining that something abnormal had appeared during the examination and she’d need to do a biopsy. The doctor later informed her that she had cancer. “I felt sick and the room started to spin,” wrote Couric, adding that she had the same “heart stopping, suspended animation feeling” she’d had when other family members who’d died of cancer — Monahan, her sister, and her mother-in-law — received their diagnoses. “My mood quickly shifted from disbelief to resignation,” she recalled. “Given my family’s history of cancer, why would I be spared? My reaction went from “Why me?” to “Why not me?”

Because it was detected early, Couric says, her tumor was “highly treatable,” and in July, she had a successful lumpectomy — a surgical procedure that removes abnormal and cancerous tissue from the breast but preserves healthy surrounding tissue. She will undergo medication treatment and radiation for the next five years. “I can’t tell you how many times during this experience I thanked God that it was 2022. And how many times I silently thanked all the dedicated scientists who have been working their asses off to develop better ways to analyze and treat breast cancer,” she wrote. “But to reap the benefits of modern medicine, 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.”

Katie Couric Opens Up About Breast-Cancer Diagnosis