Menounos said 'this whole year has been trauma, stress, crisis.'
Maria Menounos is revealing she secretly battled stage 2 pancreatic cancer, for which she was diagnosed in January, and the 44-year-old TV personality says the painful ordeal had her thinking she "was a goner."
In the new issue of People, Menounos says she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January, just one month prior to her announcing she was expecting her first child, via surrogacy, with her husband, Keven Undergaro. The Heal Squad podcast host said she ultimately underwent successful surgery to remove a 3.9-cm. tumor, and she's encouraging others to be on top of their health, because catching her cancer early helped save her life.
"I need people to know there are places they can go to catch things early," she tells the outlet. "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."
At first, Menounos says a trip to the hospital last June for severe leg cramps revealed she actually had type 1 diabetes. She was prescribed insulin and then embarked on a strict diet that also called for her to monitor her glucose levels. Menounos said she was "crushing it" -- in terms of managing her type 1 diabetes -- by the time October rolled around. But then she started to experience "excruciating abdominal pain coupled with diarrhea."
Menounos said a CT scan didn't reveal what caused the abdominal pain, which were not going away, and it got to the point where it felt like "someone was tearing my insides out," particularly after experiencing the pain on a flight just several weeks later.
And it wasn't until a whole-body MRI revealed the 3.9 cm. mass on her pancreas.
"I'm like, 'How in the freaking world can I have a brain tumor and pancreatic cancer," says Menounos, referring to her February 2017 brain tumor diagnosis that four months later required a seven-hour operation to remove the tumor. "All I could think was that I have a baby coming."
Menounos, whose mother, Litsa, was battling stage 4 cancer in her brain at the same time she was diagnosed with the brain tumor, would undergo surgery on Feb. 17 to remove the mass in her pancreas. People reported that part of her pancreas, spleen, a large fibroid and 17 lymph nodes were also removed. Menounos recalled the surgery as "super painful."
The good news is Menounos won't have to undergo chemotherapy or additional treatment. The outlet reports she'll only need annual scans for the next five years, but the diagnosis had already forced the couple to hit pause on a baby shower so she could focus on her health after such a tumultuous year.
"This whole year has been trauma, stress, crisis," she says. "There was a minute when we were planning something, and then it became too much. I thought, 'I just need to heal.'"
The TV personality instead will have a small meet-and-greet when the baby girl arrives later this summer. After revealing the sex of the baby, Menounos kept the baby's name under wraps.
"We've been thinking about names for years, 'cause as you may or may not know, this has been almost a 10-year journey for us," she said on her podcast last month. "We've thought about names forever, and I think we've come up with the perfect name for this baby."
As for their little one's last name, Menounos said the tot will have Undergaro "within her name," but will have Menounos as her surname.