Four months after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor, Maria Menounos is opening up about why it has been one of the best things for her.
The main reason: It forced her to take more time for herself and make more memories with her family and friends.
“This whole thing has been such a gift," Menounos told Women’s Health. “This happened for a reason. I'm a communicator." The former E! News host intends to spread the message that she learned from it — that everyone should give themselves “as much TLC as you give other people in your life.”
Prior to her diagnosis, the TV personality was always on the go — and always working. “Before the brain tumor, I was super type A,” she continued. "I was on top of everything...I was everything to everyone, but nothing to myself. I didn't know it at the time, but there was no self-compassion, no self-love. I didn't think I deserved it. I was too busy being, like, 'Sh*t! I've got to get to my five o'clock appointment, then my seven o'clock, then feed the dogs, and, oh my god, I've got to wake up and do this and this... ' I had become a machine.”
After her mom was diagnosed with brain cancer just a few months before she received her own brain tumor diagnosis, Menounos said she started setting boundaries. "One day I found myself telling her, 'Hold on, I can't talk right now. I've got to... ' Then I realized: I'm telling my mom, who has stage IV brain cancer, to hold on?! That's not okay. That's when I said, 'Things have to change. I'm going to spend time with her.' And I did.’”
“I no longer scheduled anything after 4 p.m.,” she continued. “I would say, 'Mom, I'm going home, and we'll watch Dancing with the Stars, eat dinner, and have fun.' I felt so happy, like, 'I'm not a machine—I'm a human!' But I'm also not perfect, so things would creep up and people would creep in. They want things and you feel guilty, so you do them. The universe took notice: 'I'm going to throw a bigger rock at your head now and really put a stop to this.'"
Menounos said getting diagnosed with her brain tumor taught her just how much she needs her friends. “Last month, my best friend and I were sitting on my living room floor playing gin rummy,” she said. “I was about to have my first beer since the surgery, and I started to weep. It hit me: I'd lived in the house for 15 years, and I'd never spent time there with a girlfriend and just had a beer—not once. But that's changing. For instance, when friends call and ask, 'You want to have lunch?' I say, 'I'd love to!' They're like, 'Wait, who are you?”'
She continued on, calling her tumor “the best thing that ever happened to me.” She added, “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.'"