Inside Hoda Kotb’s Battle & Journey with Breast Cancer

Hoda Kotb

Getty Hoda Kotb in 2019

Over the past few years, Today Show host and broadcast journalist Hoda Kotb has shown strength and resilience as she has shared more details about her battle with breast cancer in 2007.

At the age of 43, Kotb was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in March 2007, according to People. “The healing from the surgery was hardest,” Kotb revealed to Cancer Connect in 2020. “They said it was going to feel like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck. Luckily I’ve never had to experience that, but I can see where they’re coming from.”

Kotb continued, telling Cancer Connect, ” I think the good thing was I only really had one choice for treatment (surgery). There was some question about [whether or not I should have] chemotherapy: one doctor said you should have chemo; one said you don’t have to have chemo; one said you can’t make a mistake either way. I opted not to do chemo because it wasn’t in my lymph nodes.”

Following Kotb’s mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, she took tamoxifen, a medication used to treat certain kinds of breast cancer. Thankfully, Kotb’s treatment method worked, as she has been cancer-free since.

Hoda Kotb Was Inspired to Go Public With Her Cancer Battle After an Encounter on a Plane

In 2013, Kotb revealed to People that she was inspired to go public with her breast cancer journey after meeting someone on a plane named Ken. Kotb explained that this encounter was life-changing for her, as she originally wanted to keep her diagnosis to herself. “I’ll never forget – I sat across from him on a plane and he asked me why I was wearing a compression sleeve,” Kotb said to People. “I told him what I had and he said, ‘Don’t hog your journey, it’s not just for you. Think of how many people you can help.’ It’s because of him I was able to do more good than I thought I was capable of.”

Kotb also told People at the time that she was inspired by another woman named Jill, whom she met at a breast cancer awareness event. Jill had terminal cancer, yet Kotb admired her outlook on life. “I couldn’t take my eyes off of her,” Kotb told People about Jill. “There was a light about her. The saying goes, ‘Happiness is learning to love what you have’ and that’s what she does every day. I want to live like that.”

Hoda Kotb Struggled With Body Image Issues After Her Surgery

In 2014, Kotb opened up about how she struggled with body image issues after her reconstructive surgery and mastectomy in a powerful essay on “There are two phases post surgery,” Kotb wrote at the time. “There’s the ‘OMG, they got it’ reaction and you are just so happy they got the cancer. You are so grateful, and you think, ‘I don’t care what my body looks like, I am just happy to be here.’ I still feel that deep in my soul every day. This is the body I have and I’ll take it.”

Kotb explained that the second phase came along with more challenges for her. “But I’d be lying if I didn’t say there is a second phase, a window of time where you don’t even want to look at yourself,” Kotb wrote. “It’s jarring. I remember a moment in the hospital when a nurse said she needed to help bathe me and I had to be standing up, in front of a mirror. I told her, ‘Please, just turn me around. I’d rather not see it.’”

Kotb continued, writing, “Then, when your body heals, you start to feel better. You realize that you don’t care about the scars. You are just happy to have this body, a healthy body, no matter the lumps and bumps and problems. And even though I now consider myself about 90 percent, as far as feeling emotionally and physically recovered and body confident, I am not at 100 percent… The actual scars are there… that’s forever a part of me.”

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