Maria Menounos on Brain Tumor Diagnosis: I Thought ‘This Is a Joke’

When Maria Menounos learned she had a brain tumor less than a year after her mother, Litsa, was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer, she struggled to accept the situation as reality.

“I started kind of chuckling,” Menounos, 39, explains on NBC News’ Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly’s July 23, episode. “Because at that point it’s like, ‘This is a joke.’ Like, how does this happen?”

Still, following a seven-hour brain surgery to remove the non-cancerous tumor, Menounos sees the whole situation as a blessing. “I think that this was a gift, because I needed to change my life,” she adds. “I needed to change the way I did everything.”

The TV personality opened up about her recovery on July 3 in an emotional Instagram post. “It’s been a crazy time here in our home. I want you all to know that I’m ok! Seriously I’m recovering well and should be as good as new very very soon!” Menounos wrote alongside a photo of her kissing her mother’s head. “Luckily I don’t need any further treatments but I can’t say the same about my mom. So please keep her in your prayers.”

Hours after revealing her diagnosis, Menounos announced she would be leaving E! News. “I am so grateful for the past three years at E!, I had such an amazing time cohosting with Jason Kennedy and working every day with the wonderful roster of talent on the show including producers, staff and crew,” she said in a statement July 3. “It was such a special, good-hearted group and one I’ll always consider family.”

During an interview with the Today show, which aired on July 3, Menounos explained that the experience made her eager to have children with fiancé Keven Undergaro. “I want to start a family,” she said. “You realize really quickly when something like this happens that nothing else really matters.” 

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