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Maria Menounos Reveals She Battled Pancreatic Cancer While Expecting 1st Child: ‘It Was Super Painful’

Maria Menounos Reveals She Battled Pancreatic Cancer While Expecting 1st Child
Maria Menounos attends the 94th Annual Academy Awards on March 27, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

A harrowing situation. Maria Menounos revealed that she secretly battled pancreatic cancer before announcing that she’s expecting her first child via surrogate.

The TV host, 44, was diagnosed with stage II pancreatic cancer in January after experiencing severe abdominal pain and diarrhea. “They said, ‘Everything’s fine.’ But I kept having pains,” the former pageant queen told People in an interview published on Wednesday, May 3. At one point, the pain was so acute that Menounos said it felt “like someone was tearing my insides out.”

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After a whole-body MRI, the TV personality’s doctors discovered a 3.9-cm mass on her pancreas and confirmed it was cancerous with a biopsy. In February, she underwent surgery to remove the tumor along with part of her pancreas, her spleen, 17 lymph nodes and a fibroid. “It was super painful,” Menounos recalled. “I couldn’t move or lift myself up.”

The Dancing With the Stars alum was diagnosed just months after learning that she has type 1 diabetes. After changing her diet, taking insulin and monitoring her glucose levels, Menounos was feeling like herself again in October, but then her abdominal pains started.

In the meantime, she and husband Keven Undergaro were gearing up for the arrival of their first child via surrogate. The couple, who tied the knot in 2017, announced in February that they’re expecting a baby this summer.

“We were going to go to Greece in the summer. We’re having to move that up because we’re having a baby,” the “Heal Squad” podcast host revealed during an appearance on Live With Kelly and Ryan. “I had to share it here first because you guys are my family, you guys have been on the journey and I’m so grateful.”

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Menounos and Undergaro, 55, have been trying for years to have a child. In 2016, the Massachusetts native revealed that her attempt to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization was unsuccessful.

“It’s been a long time. We’ve done everything — I mean, literally everything,” Menounos told Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest in February. “They’ve tried to get me pregnant, that didn’t work. Kevin had a surgery, that didn’t work. He’s hung me upside down like a chicken, that didn’t work!”

Maria Menounos Reveals She Battled Pancreatic Cancer While Expecting 1st Child 2
Maria Menounos attends Fast X Trailer Launch on February 9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Stewart Cook/Shutterstock

The former Extra host has also battled unrelated health issues, including a brain tumor that left her with severe headaches, blurry vision and slurred speech. In June 2017, doctors removed a golf-ball sized mass that was pressing on her trigeminal nerve, which provides sensation to the face.

“For a long time, probably for two years before, I was exhausted and I didn’t know why,” Menounos recalled in a May 2018 interview with Today. “Everyone told me it was because I worked so hard. Somehow, it didn’t really sit right with me, but you have no other explanation for it — that’s what you kind of go with.”

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A February 2017 doctor visit, however, confirmed that it wasn’t just stress, and four months later, Menounos underwent surgery that came with a lengthy recovery process. “It really affected my balance a lot and I had a lot of difficulty with my eyes — I was seeing double and triple,” the former E! News anchor recalled. “I needed a walker for a long time for stability.”

Menounos encouraged fans at the time to always look for answers when anything feels off. “Find the right doctor who is going to help you investigate it properly,” she said. “People get told, ‘It’s nothing, you’re just tired and stressed’ or, ‘You’re being paranoid.’ I was lucky to have a doctor who instantly realized that we needed to take action and take it seriously.”

One year before the former Today correspondent learned of her own brain tumor, her mom, Litsa Menounos, was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer. Litsa died in May 2021 after battling the disease fore more than four years.

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