Hoda Kotb’s Emotional Journey From Breast Cancer Survivor to First-Time Mom at 52

When Hoda Kotb was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago this month, she was a healthy, married 43-year-old who wanted to have kids. While the longtime broadcast journalist immediately made the decision to have a mastectomy and quickly bounced back physically, the post-surgery drugs carried an unwanted side effect: they prevented her from getting pregnant.

The Today show cohost, now 52, announced Tuesday, February 21, that she had adopted a baby girl, calling into the show to deliver the sweet news. (Watch her emotional announcement in the video above.) But it has been a long road to parenthood, starting with the drug tamoxifen, which the cancer survivor had to take daily for at least five years after her surgery to prevent the recurrence of the disease.

“Probably the hardest part about taking the pills is that they shut down your reproductive system, and I know every night when I take them that I’m contributing to that,” Kotb told CancerConnect.com in 2008, the year after her diagnosis. Not only that, but the TV star’s marriage (to former University of New Orleans tennis coach Burzis Kanga), already shaky when she was diagnosed, fell apart. After getting a divorce, she began dating, but by the time she completed the course of tamoxifen she was at an age when women’s fertility rates are already in steep decline.

My girl #haleyjoy

A post shared by Hoda Kotb (@hodakotb) on

All the waiting is now behind her now, though, as the new mom and her live-in boyfriend of three years, financier Joel Schiffman, settle into life with little Haley Joy, who was born on Valentine’s Day. The newborn is named after Halley’s Comet because “it was one of those things that I just picture her sailing through the sky,” Kotb told Today hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Jenna Bush Hager when she called in live on Tuesday.

The well-wishes (and gifts, including a giant Snoopy from Bravo’s Andy Cohen) continued to pour in. Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jacqueline Laurita, who struggled with several miscarriages before having her youngest son, Nicholas, congratulated Kotb on Instagram: “I was crying listening to how happy you were while announcing her,” wrote Laurita, who became a grandmother last year when her daughter Ashlee Holmes gave birth to her first child. “You will be an amazing Mother. Your life will change forever in a beautiful way. God Bless. XOXO!”

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