In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, TV host Maria Menounos revealed that she had a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. She started to notice her symptoms while on set. “I’d been getting lightheaded and having headaches. My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter.” Maria had already been caring for her mother, who is currently fighting stage 4 brain cancer. “I didn’t cry. I actually laughed,” upon hearing her own devastating news. “It’s so surreal and crazy and unbelievable that my mom has a brain tumor—and now I have one too?”
Maria underwent a seven-hour surgery to remove the tumor. However, it could return. She’s now back at home and spending time with her mother Litsa, whose latest MRI shows the cancer to be stable. Maria told the magazine “I don’t have my balance fully yet but as long as I’m holding on to [husband] Keven, I’m sturdy and fine. 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.”
Menounos sees the experience as a blessing for her family, and re-evaluated her whole outlook on life. “We’re caretakers as women and we put ourselves last,” Maria says. “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? I’m so lucky that I went to the doctor and raised the alarm.”
She has also made the decision to leave E! News after being with the network for three years. Maria wants to focus on her health and well-being, and plans to ” take some time and focus on some passion projects and see what’s next. I’ve always been so proud of being a hard worker, but there’s so much more out there.”
“I just want to be still for a bit and see what I’m supposed to be in this world. For me, sharing this story is important on so many levels. I hate secrets. I also want to help women realize that they have to put themselves first. I wouldn’t have ever known or imagined that this was going on if I hadn’t seen the symptoms in my mom,” Maria states. “I want to encourage people to find some stillness in their life so they can listen to their bodies—and hear what’s going on.”
The exclusive interview with PEOPLE will be out on stands this week.