Maria Menounos Reveals Secret Battle With Pancreatic Cancer & Surgery: ‘It Was Super Painful’
Six years after having a benign brain tumor removed, Maria Menounos faced another health battle at the beginning of 2023. In January, the former E! News host was diagnosed with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer. She secretly underwent surgery in February to have a 3.9 cm tumor removed, along with her spleen, a large fibroid and 17 lymph nodes. "It was super painful," Maria recalled in an interview with PEOPLE. "I couldn't move or lift myself up." Amidst this trying time, Maria and her husband, Keven Undergaro, have a baby on the way via surrogate. The little one is due this summer.
Now, Maria is on the mend and nearly three months into her recovery. Luckily, she caught her cancer early enough and was given a "good prognosis" before her surgery. "I need people to know that there are places they can go to catch things early," she shared. "You can't let fear get in the way. I had that moment where I thought I was a goner, but I'm okay because I caught this early enough."
Maria's latest round of health issues began in June 2022, when she started having severe leg cramps. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and began taking insulin and monitoring her diet to regulate her levels and get the disease under control. By October, she said she "felt so good" and was "crushing it." Unfortunately, the next month, she was hospitalized again, this time with "excruciating abdominal pain and diarrhea."
At the time, Maria was told that "everything was fine," but when she kept having pain, she went in to have a full body MRI, which revealed the mass on her pancreas. A biopsy confirmed the diagnosis. "I'm like, 'How in the freaking world can I have a brain tumor and pancreatic cancer?'" she wondered. "All I could think was that I have a baby coming."
Maria will not require any additional treatment at this time, but she will need annual scans for the next five years to keep track of her condition. Now, her focus is on the new baby on the way. "I'm so grateful and lucky," Maria said. "God granted me a miracle. I'm going to appreciate having [my daughter] in my life so much more than I would have before this journey."