Maria Menounos is leaving E! News after having a brain tumor removed

Maria Menounos, 39, covers the most recent issue of People Magazine with her incredible story of finding out that she had a benign brain tumor at the same time her mom was being treated for stage four brain cancer. Menounos noticed that she was having problems with slurred speech and with reading the teleprompter at her job on E! News. She consulted doctors, eventually had an MRI and learned three months after first seeing a doctor that she had brain tumor. Think about that for a moment. It took a minor celebrity three months to get a diagnosis for something for which she had symptoms. I often think of Catherine Zeta Jones discussing the fact that it took doctors weeks to find her husband Michael Douglas’s tongue cancer, which was a walnut sized tumor in a location which was was easily accessible. These are very rich people seeing the best specialists available. Now imagine how long a cancer diagnosis takes for average people with health insurance and how the GOP wants to strip even basic healthcare away from anyone who can’t afford the exorbitant cost. Menounos also announced that she’s leaving her position at E! News.

In February, the TV and Sirius XM radio host started experiencing troubling symptoms. “I’d been getting lightheaded on set and having headaches,” she tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s exclusive new cover story. “My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter.”

An MRI revealed Menounos had a golf-ball-size meningioma brain tumor that was pushing on her facial nerves. “I didn’t cry. I actually laughed,” she recalls. “It’s so surreal and crazy and unbelievable that my mom has a brain tumor—and now I have one too?”

With support from her fiancé Keven Undergaro, whom she got engaged to in March 2016 after almost 19 years of dating, Menounos made an appointment with her mother’s doctor, renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Keith L. Black, and they scheduled surgery for June 8—her 39th birthday. “He said, ‘I’m 98 percent sure it’s benign but we won’t know until we get in there,’” she says.

During the complex surgery, which lasted about seven hours, Dr. Black was able to remove 99.9 percent of the tumor, which was benign. “He said there’s a six to seven percent chance that we’ll see it come back,” she says. “But I’ll take those odds any day.”

Now back at home after a six-day hospital stay, Menounos is healing and spending time with her mother, Litsa, whose latest MRI shows that her cancer is stable. “I don’t have my balance fully yet but as long as I’m holding on to Keven, I’m sturdy and fine,” Menounos says. “My face is still numb. This is something that takes at least a month of healing, but I’m getting stronger and stronger every day and I’ll be back to normal very soon.”

[From People]

Maria is almost out of the woods, according to a recent Instagram she posted. She thanked everyone for the well wishes and wrote that she’s almost done with treatment. Her mom has a while to go though, and she asked for prayers for her. Here’s what she wrote:

First I wanna say thank you all for the well wishes, prayers and support. 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! 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. I also want to thank @people for allowing me to share my story. @juliejordanc & @mrjesscagle THANK YOU' Next-I need to thank everyone at @cedarssinai everyone there has been amazing. Most people want to rush out of the hospital to get home I kept saying I've never been treated kinder. I cried like a baby saying goodbye to the amazing nurses who took such good care of me. God bless nurses! I of course need to thank dr black and dr Chu for performing an amazing surgery and giving me the best bday gift ever-my health. And lastly, god has blessed me in so many ways but this too was a blessing. I got to hear what I have meant to my friends and family-it's been quite moving for me. I want thank all of my incredible friends, family and even strangers who have shown me and my family such kindness. @alyssawallerce Thank you for being with me every step of the way. I couldn't have done it without you. @iamjoegear You too! And to @undergaro the best nurse in the never left the hospital and slept by my side there. you are my everything and I'm so thankful to you. You and dad have really been incredible to mom and me. You both have inspired me. I've never been more excited about life. I see so much so clearly. Will share more with all of you soon! Xo

A post shared by maria menounos (@mariamenounos) on

Maria also announced that she’s leaving E! News to focus on her health and well being. She has been co-anchoring the show with Jason Kennedy for the last three years. She told People that she’s “going to take some time and focus on some passion projects and see what’s next.” She also encouraged us to listen to our bodies, saying “I tell people all the time if your car is making a weird noise, you take it to the mechanic. How come when our body is making weird noises, we ignore it?” That’s actually excellent advice.

Maria’s may also be stepping back to focus on having a family. She told People that she’s going to undergo in vitro fertilization in the hopes of having a baby with her partner of 20 years and now-fiance, Keven Undergaro, 51.

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41 Responses to “Maria Menounos is leaving E! News after having a brain tumor removed”

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  1. poop says:

    Have you guys seen that beauty blogger on YT with the brain tumor also? It’s scary — you can see how the surgery/tumor has affected her speech, memory, and cognition. I wish her and her mother a speedy and full recovery.

    • Holla here says:

      Yes! Courtneylizz or something is her name. Her tumor was thought to benign but was later found that she has stage 3 brain cancer.

      Speedy recovery to Maria and her mom.

    • Green says:

      Incidentally or maybe not quite so incidentally I also know a makeup artist who has been piling on makeup every day and earlier working full time in makeup stores since she was in her teens. She’s only 22 and has just had a brain tumour removed. Maria and other actors are probably exposed to a disproportionate amount of chemicals. I stay well away from mainstream makeup, deodorants, perfumes, shampoos, etc. Buy your products at the organic store or do research online and shop online – there are tons of natural products out there with the added bonus of no animal testing. The FDA, EPA, and whatever else will approve just about anything. A good guide to have as you shop is The Chemical Maze.

  2. Maria F. says:

    It is crazy that it took 3 months to detect the brain tumor once she had her MRI.

    I just had one for my lower back here in Germany and I just had to wait for a consultation with the doctor directly afterwards.

    • Susan says:

      It didn’t take 3 months from time of MRI. Maria recounted the story. She knew before she even left the imaging place that there was a problem and made an appointment with the neurosurgeon the next day. I think the 3 months is from the time of the first symptom to diagnosis but it’s unclear because she also praised her primary doctor highly for taking her symptoms seriously and scheduling her for an MRI. There are no wait lists here. You can have an MRI by calling up and getting an appointment at your convenience.

  3. poop says:

    Did I misread something? I’ve never seen MRI readings take 3 months, especially a golf sized tumor. Maybe it was that neurologists wanted to explore other options first?

    • Celebitchy says:

      I think it took her three months from seeing the doctor being able to book the MRI to getting a diagnosis.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        It still seems a bit long, and I’m in Canada, where wait times are sometimes worrisome. With neurological symptoms, the MRI should have been prioritized.
        I wonder if her being a woman, and a celebrity woman at that, had them looking in other directions first.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        My suspicion is that her health insurance initially refused to authorize and approve payment for an MRI. It could easily take 3 months for her and her physicians to appeal such a denial, get the test authorized, and then book her an MRI appointment.

        This is why we need some kind of single payer system in the US. While she was lucky her tumor was benign and her surgery thus far appears successful (although she probably does not yet know what kind of permanent side effects it may cause), we know other people have suffered far worse and even died due to the intransigence of insurance companies.

      • JustBitchy says:

        BearCat, she could pay for an MRI at most $1200. Not fair, buy she’s lucky she’s got the 💰 💰

      • Antonym says:

        I think you’re right @Bearcatlawyer. My insurance took months of arguing before authorizing follow up imaging and that’s with finding problems in the first scan.

        I don’t want to imagine how much worse it could be if certain politicians have their way.

    • SandraDee says:

      My son was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year. It was tricky to diagnose because the location was hard to access. The neurosurgeon and pediatric oncologist felt it was safer to monitor it rather than biopsy it because based on probability it was more than likely benign and the biopsy could have been very dangerous. Sometimes it can be hard to access until it is a bigger tumor because the only way to get to it is if there is swelling that opens up the corridors that a neurosurgeon can thread through to get there to snip a piece of it out. There are no good blood tests to check for it, because he passed a tumor marker test but still had a Grade IV malignancy. He was very lucky in his treatment and is in remission right now, but it did take almost two months from discovery to diagnosis because of the careful approach they took.

    • WTW says:

      It took me a year to get an MRI for a grapefruit sized fibroid tumor in my uterus. I told doctors my mother had a hysterectomy because of fibroids, my acupuncturist had said he felt something hard in my abdomen and that I could not get pregnant. These were all red flags. Plus, I was a thirty-something black woman, and these tumors are prevalent among African Americans. Yet, doctors wouldn’t help me. One doctor just briefly felt my abdomen and said everything felt normal. Another doctor didn’t even bother to examine me. When I finally was referred to a specialist it took him mere minutes to determine via ultrasound that I had a huge fibroid tumor. He was shocked by the size. He quickly scheduled an MRI.
      Before this ordeal and my infertility struggle, I used to trust doctors. But I never actually had anything wrong with me before. When I did have a problem, I was dismissed and ignored. Doctors (and many nurses and other medical staff) are extremely arrogant and in a rush to see the next patient. Many are just downright cold. I honestly feel the same way about doctors that many people feel about police, so it doesn’t surprise me that even celebrities have issues getting diagnosed. I certainly do not revere them like many people do.

      • Asiyah says:

        I’m sorry you went through that, WTW. I had two hysteroscopies this year to remove three fibroids. I had really bad periods and severe pain almost all of my adult life and it only got worse when I turned 30. Every time I’d go to the doctor, I’d hear “oh that’s just how some women are” and “get on birth control” but even with the BC I was still feeling this way. Finally, one day early this year, after going to Urgent Care, finally someone suggested I have fibroids. Got an ultrasound done and lo and behold I do. Scheduled an appointment with a wonderful OB/GYN. I lucked out with her. She did a biopsy to make sure it wasn’t anything else and wanted an MRI or another ultrasound because the first one was foggy. Insurance didn’t approve the MRI so I did get another ultrasound and this image was way clearer, showing I had not one but 3 fibroids in critical areas. Had my first hysteroscopy in March and my second in May because they couldn’t remove all 3 fibroids in March. Crazy ordeal these 6 months but I’m happy I got that over with. 99.99% of the fibroids were removed. I do agree with you about doctors being cold, arrogant, rushing, etc. I lucked out with this OB/GYN but it took me YEARS to finally find one I felt comfortable with. I hope you’re doing well WTW. AA women are 4x more likely than white women to have fibroids, and Latinas, Southeast Asian women, and Caribbean women also have high risk. Guess my doctor knew that and since I’m in one of those categories (and so is she) and my long history of bad periods she was like oh no. Let’s get rid of this now! Well wishes, WTW XOXO

  4. lightpurple says:

    I wish her and her mom all the best. This is scary stuff. Even a benign brain tumor can do lots of damage. My cousin had one removed two years ago. She still has balance, hearing and memory problems.

  5. Torontoe says:

    Actually Michael Douglas’ cancer was diagnosed in Canada while he was vacationing here, although the had raised concerns months and months prior in the US. And yet during a debate your president called our universal healthcare system a “disaster”.
    Best of luck to Maria and her mom in particular.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Very sadly, the US is rather low in the rankings for health outcomes.

      I’ve lived in both countries and though I worry about wait times and access to specialists in Canada, I’ve been here long enough to know that in an emergency, they get you right in. The system isn’t perfect but at least everyone has access to it and it seems to be just about the most (lower-case “d”) democratic thing possible. Maybe the biggest thing holding the Canadian system back is the tendency to benchmark itself to the United States instead of other countries with universal access and/or actual positive indicators of quality. It’s easy to feel good about it relative to the USA but that’s not really helpful.

  6. Lucy2 says:

    That is so scary, glad they caught it and she is doing OK, and best wishes to her mom as well.

  7. Linabear says:

    Alas, Celebitchy you are so right. As a regular ole layperson it took me SIX MONTHS to find out I had tumors in my colon. By that time my relationship had been destroyed, I’d nearly lost my job, and drained my finances…It’s just crazy, but I’m glad she’s getting the help she needs.

  8. Sally says:

    I had a similar experience this year. I’m 29 years old and in the past year I’ve been diagnosed with hashimotos , pcos, beta thalessmia and interstitial cystics. It took years and years of me asking to see specialists for these to get diagnosed. Even so , the doctors are so vague about the diagnosis and how this is or will affect me. I don’t understand why when patients say something is not right , doctors don’t take it seriously.

    • Linabear says:

      Me too! 29 and can relate to the difficulties of diagnosis and not being taken seriously. I even had a doctor blame some of my issues on anorexia! I’m not anorexic btw just thin. Grrrrr.

    • justcrimmles says:

      “I don’t understand why when patients say something is not right , doctors don’t take it seriously.”

      ^^very much this. I had a cervical biopsy March of last year, and the gyno inserted a mirena, “just in case, because we use these to treat this kind of cancer.” Biopsy was positive precancerous. For months, I complained that I was not only still bleeding, but having pain and pressure in my lower abdomen. One of the doctors suggested I have a colonoscopy, because my pain and fatigue “couldn’t possibly be related this.” I no longer see those doctors.

      Hope you find effective, compassionate care soon, Sally. And Linabear, wtf is wrong with people/doctors?! That is disgusting. They aren’t taught not to assume, I guess. I had one years ago come right out and ask me if I “did this sort of thing often.” Meaning, go to the er complaining of pain. I’d pulled a muscle in my shoulder, but he was more concerned that I was pill seeking. I was all of twenty years old. Didn’t have any record of what he assumed I was doing. Sorry you have been through all that, it sucks. Doctors should know better!

      • Sally says:

        I’m sorry you went through this 😢

        As women , I feel like we know when something is off , specially related to the reproductive system. I’m glad you not longer see see those doctors! I hope your new medical team is more informed.

      • jwoolman says:

        Doctors still have trouble taking women seriously. Especially about pain issues. It’s not uncommon with chronic issues to go for years without a diagnosis and then of course they think you must be a hypochondriac because you keep seeing more and more doctors, hoping to find one who can figure out what is going on so you can get your life back. The impact on quality of life is often ignored and women especially are often told to just live with it. Since I have some chronic health issues myself (but less faith in doctors and not enough money to pursue them anyway), I read enough to hear these same stories again and again. Often the problems are made worse by medical mistakes even with diagnostic tests and simple procedures that are carelessly done by medical professionals, which I have experienced myself.

        But I also taught premeds and they aren’t all geniuses. Many were mediocre at best, just more likely to be grade-grubbing than most. It was only a few percent that I thought might be good doctors of the inquiring sort that you see on tv dramas. The rest would just be like the similar percentage of doctors I had personal experience with – okay for very routine things, but not intellectually curious about not-so-routine things and having a pronounced hearing problem.

        A friend’s sister who is an MD herself reminded him that not all doctors are at the top of the class…. She was advising him when he had a problem made much worse by an allegedly experienced surgeon who had an oopsie moment and didn’t do proper followup when he complained of continuing problems (so they don’t always pay that much attention to men, either, although traditionally they assume guys are stoic and so when they complain about pain it is usually taken more seriously).

        This is why I say that we have to be our own health detectives and willing to experiment. The fact is that doctors are just consultants, and some are very good consultants but most are not that great and often are not terribly observant. Life is not a tv show. And even if you tell them directly what you are experiencing, if they don’t have a quick answer then many of them don’t go much further and at some point they just wish you would go away …. They’re just regular people. Not malicious but with varying levels of skill, just as in any job. And their job is incredibly complex, so it really isn’t surprising that they are typically so limited when faced with non-routine issues. This is why a team approach can be so much better, but a really good team doesn’t happen that often except on tv.

      • WTW says:

        @Jwoolman, Doctors may be consultants, but in some cases, patients actually diagnose themselves, and doctors still don’t listen. I understand that some doctors have difficulty diagnosing problems that may be vague or overlap with other medical conditions. But when a patient says I have a family history of X, can you please look into it, they still don’t. Moreover, as a black woman in the US aware of the long history of racist medical treatment and the fact that doctors still believe insanely racist things about black patients (like we don’t feel as much pain) and consistently give us subpar treatment, I do not like and do not trust the average doctor. It’s gotten to the point that my blood pressure gets artificially high when I step into a doctor’s office. I had to buy my own blood pressure machine to test at home, where my numbers are usually ideal, because I get so upset just being in a doctor’s office. I feel like I have been traumatized by the healthcare system. I cannot have children after years of fibroids and endometriosis went undiagnosed despite telling doctors that my mother had these same exact problems. I blame my infertility on horrible doctors.

      • Asiyah says:

        Sorry to hear this, crimmles 🙁

  9. Eric says:

    More of a legendary beauty than all the Bond women.

  10. MissAmanda says:

    man he (Keven Undergaro) has had so much plastic surgery! (or at least it looks like it)

  11. Sally says:

    Wow! Some things that doctors say is just plain rude!

  12. Birdix says:

    A friend went in last week for a leg problem and came out with a diagnosis of glioblastoma–hoping his outcome is as positive as hers. Another dear friend died this weekend after foregoing Western treatment for her cancer, and relying on alternative healers, all of whom told her she would survive. If it wouldn’t terrify the neighborhood, I’d howl into the SF fog in despair and rage.

  13. Spike says:

    Best wishes for her. My mentor from Master’s in Library & Information Studies program passed away 13 years ago.

    He had brain surgery twice for the same type of tumor as Maria. His mother had it a couple of decades earlier. The surgeries were successful. However he passed away from a massive heart attack within day of the last surgery.

    We were supposed to have lunch 2 weeks later but my mom just came home after 3 months in the hospital for sepsis due to bacterial & fungal infections. I didn’t find out for 6 months.

  14. Green says:

    Everyone, please look at your chemical exposure and do research on this stuff. Get a water filter (including for shower), eat organic, and buy your cosmetics and personal care stuff from the organic store. Good health to you all.

  15. Ladybug says:

    Cell phones are definitely contributing to brain cancer.