Today show co-host Hoda Kotb says she was blindsided when doctors told her she had breast cancer in 2007. Now the self-proclaimed "health nut," 44, is opening up to OK! about how the diagnosis changed her life, for the better.
CLICK HERE for OK!’s exclusive photos of Hoda!
"I’m a real health-nut so when I went for a routine visit she felt something and said, ‘Maybe you should go check that,’ " Hoda says of first learning something was wrong. "I got the biopsy on a Friday. On Monday, the doctor calls me at my office and says, ‘Not good news for you…’ One of the interns said to me, ‘Can I give you a hug?’ I just melted."
Hoda admits that at first, she was afraid. "When someone says the ‘C’ word, it’s overwhelming," she tells OK!. "You’re freaking out because you think when people have cancer, they die. It was one of those moments where you reevaluate your life."
CLICK HERE for OK!’s look at the superstars who are beating breast cancer.
Hoda’s diagnosis was even more shocking because she says there was no history of cancer in her family.
"Why me? We don’t have cancer in our family. I’m young. And then I started the business of figuring out what do do," she says.
Hoda had a mastectomy, but says she didn’t do chemotherapy or radiation. Instead, she took Tamoxifen [a drug that reduces the chance of recurrence], explaining, "I didn’t want to carpet bomb my whole body with poison to get what could be one stray cell."
The news co-host says her family helped her through her darkest days. And her advice for other women? "Do exactly what I didn’t do! When you hit 40, get a mammogram!" Kotb says. "Don’t be afraid and think, ‘What if something happens?’"
Today, Hoda is doing well and says she owes it all to a higher power.
"I feel so lucky," she says. "It’s like somebody is saying, ‘You get another go.’ Starting today, you get one more chance. I feel like I’m on the side of angels."
For the entire interview with Hoda Kotb, pick up the new OK! – on newsstands everywhere on Thursday!