When Katie Couric got the phone call informing her she had breast cancer, she handled it the way she always handles any other news — as a journalist.
“I actually sort of treated this whole ordeal like a reporter,” said Ms. Couric, who once held some of the highest-profile jobs in the news business — “Today Show” host and “CBS Evening News” anchor. “I went and tried to learn as much as I could.”
It was not, she noted in an interview, “her first rodeo” with cancer — her first husband, Jay Monahan, died from colon cancer in 1998, and her sister, Emily, died from pancreatic cancer in 2001. Al Rabson, the former leader of the National Cancer Institute, used to call her “Dr. Couric” because she had amassed so much knowledge. But for Ms. Couric, 65, breast cancer was new.
“I had not had as much experience with breast cancer personally, or with anybody in my family,” she said.
On Wednesday, she published an article on her website announcing she had been diagnosed on June 21, on her eighth wedding anniversary, and detailing the treatment she had undergone over the summer. Ms. Couric also noted that she had what are known as “dense breasts,” which makes it difficult for mammograms to detect cancer. Her radiologist, she said, described finding an abnormality in dense breasts like looking for a snowball in a snowy field. Ms. Couric’s cancer was detected by an additional ultrasound.
Ms. Couric, who runs Katie Couric Media and hosts her own podcast, also plans to publish more content about her experience and breast cancer in general throughout October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
According to the National Cancer Institute, almost half of all women over the age of 40 have dense breasts. The Food and Drug Administration announced planned policy changes in 2019 to address breast density and modernize breast cancer screening, but Ms. Couric said those plans have since languished.
“Hopefully this will be a kick in the pants for a lot of policymakers and just a lot of women in general to to make sure they are up to date on their screenings,” Ms. Couric said.
According to the National Breast Foundation Cancer Foundation, one in eight women develop breast cancer. The survival rate for women whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast is 99 percent. Ms. Couric was diagnosed with Stage 1A breast cancer which, she wrote, hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes.
Ms. Couric, who once underwent a colonoscopy on the “Today Show,” described herself as “vigilant” about health screenings after the death of her husband. She wrote that she was shocked when her gynecologist informed her that she was six months late for her routine mammogram.
“I really wanted to use this as an opportunity to remind so many women who put off their mammograms during the pandemic,” Ms. Couric said. “The bottom line is the earlier you detect it, the better.”