Nearly one year after Maria Menounos revealed that her mother, Litsa Menounos, was battling brain cancer, she's opening up about her own health scare by calling it "the best thing to ever happen to me."
A few months ago, the former E! News anchor underwent surgery in order to remove a tumor the size of a golf ball from her brain. She was diagnosed with benign meningioma back in April after she was experiencing light-headedness, headaches, slurred speech, and difficulty reading the teleprompter on set. After undergoing an MRI, she was told that she had a brain tumor.
“Would you believe me if I told you that the brain tumor is the best thing that ever happened to me? It’s freed me from all of that anxiety of having to be perfect. You can’t control everything; leave it to God and just say, 'Okay, this is my journey,'" the 39-year-old told Women's Health in a new interview. "This whole thing has been such a gift. This happened for a reason."
Maria first opened up about her diagnosis in July. “I didn’t cry. I actually laughed,” she told People. “It’s so surreal and crazy and unbelievable that my mom has a brain tumor — and now I have one too?”
Dr. Keith L. Black, the same surgeon who took care of Maria's mother, performed her surgery on June 8, and he is sure he removed 99.9 percent of the tumor, but there is a six to seven percent chance that it could grow back. "I’ll take those odds any day," Maria said.
"Before the brain tumor, I was super type A. I was on top of everything. I would know when your birthday was and make sure you had your flowers. I was everything to everyone, but nothing to myself," she told Women's Health. "I didn’t know it at the time, but there was no self-compassion, no self-love. I didn’t think I deserved it."
This video was taken 24 hours after my brain surgery. I still can’t believe that you can eat and speak normally so soon after. It was hard to keep my eyes open bc i was seeing double at this point. I’ve received so many messages from people saying that my story has helped them, and on my 6 month anniversary I wanted to share this so if you are about to go through this you can see with your own eyes what it can be like. Everyone is different...but if I can ease your fears a bit I would like to. Also want to stress the importance of friends! @alyssawallerce my best friend of 26 years was by my side for months and she fed me this first meal (broth)...it’s a journey and you need help so Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Forever grateful to alyssa and all my amazing friends who helped me through this!
After her June surgery, Maria really had some time to think about life. "With nothing to do but stay in bed, I had plenty of time to think. Like: ‘Why do I work 20 hours a day? To have more... to pay more... to owe more? What is life about? What really matters?," she shared. "Going the extra mile and depleting my health for some boss who’s never going to give a s—? Not worth it!"
Shortly after revealing her health scare, Maria announced that she would be stepping down from her position at E! News in order to focus on her health. "I am so grateful for the past three years at E!," she said in a statement obtained by E! News. "I had such an amazing time co-hosting with Jason Kennedy and working every day with the wonderful roster of talent on the show including producers, staff, and crew. It was such a special, good-hearted group and one I'll always consider family."
Maria took to Instagram in July to share a heartfelt thank you to her fans who showed her an outpouring of love and support and she reassured her followers that she is doing okay. "It's been a crazy time here in our home. I want you all to know that I'm ok!" she captioned a selfie with her mom. "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." We're so glad you're doing well, Maria!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Closer Weekly.