After Maria Menounos endured one of the darkest moments of her life, she’s hoping to shine a light in the lives of others.
The 40-year-old TV and Sirius XM radio host revealed in 2017 she was diagnosed with a golf ball-sized brain tumor while she was taking care of her mother, who was battling stage 4 brain cancer. But not only did both women overcame their health obstacles, but Menounos is now pursuing her lifelong passions and sharing them with others.
Menounos spoke with Fox News about why she calls her brain tumor a blessing, how social media helped her cope and the no-nonsense advice she has for women.
Fox News: You once described your health ordeal as a gift. How so?
Maria Menounos: For me, it was a sign from God that I needed to change my life. I had been working on myself for the last few years, whether it be reading self-help books or going to Tony Robbins seminars.
And one of the biggest things that I took away from Tony is that life is happening for you and not to you. I really believe that. Even with the brain tumor diagnosis, I said… ‘Why is this happening to me?’ And I knew.
It was happening for me to slow down, evaluate my life, change the way I was living, take my health and happiness into a higher consideration and to stop thinking of myself as a robot. I wasn’t just on this planet to please everybody else. And that work didn’t mean everything. I’m a hard worker and I think I got to a place where I felt like I had to continue proving myself. I was only working harder and harder.
I was going to work myself into a grave. Now I’m so much more balanced about everything. … I’m making more of life than just work. I thought this was the biggest blessing and I continue to believe that. It was really the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
Fox News: You’re still keeping yourself busy. What’s motivating you?
Menounos: I have freedom. I’m not under a contract. I was under contract for 18 years straight. I had people controlling my every move. How I did my hair, what color I dyed it, how short or long it was — It’s so nice to be free. … I’m able to pave a new path for myself that’s even more meaningful for me. … I’m making me matter more.
Fox News: What’s been your relationship like with fans on social media?
Menounos: I generally dislike social media. It’s annoying to me. I feel it’s like a beast that’s so hard to feed. But on the flipside… it provides a sense of connectivity with people. And I appreciate that. So I have a love/hate situation with it. And honestly, it was so beyond helpful during this journey.
I was able to talk about what I was going through and people shared their own stories. I didn’t feel alone. And the encouragement, love, and prayers that we received were so mind-blowing and beautiful. It really helped me through my toughest moments. I know I said it was a blessing, and it was. But it doesn’t mean it wasn’t really painful and very hard as well. … It makes you feel less alone.
Fox News: How is your mother doing?
Menounos: She’s doing amazing. … My mother had glioblastoma and her tumor has shrunk down to a crumb. It’s miraculous. … We just feel so blessed.
Fox News: You recently teamed up with Home Chef to announce their makeover challenge. How important has it been at this point in your life to maintain a healthy lifestyle from home?
Menounos: It’s very important. I’ve shifted so many things in my life in this last year or so.
I started hobbies and taken guitar lessons. And getting back to cooking is one of those things because I’ve always loved it. I just haven’t had time. But I love having a meal at home with my husband.
Fox News: How has your home served as a refuge while you were healing?
Menounos: My home is my sanctuary. It’s funny before I had surgery, Keven was working tirelessly throughout the house to have it set up and in its best condition so I could recover without worrying about things that needed to be done. I have my studio at home where I do my SiriusXM show from, which is great because I was able to get back on the air far sooner than I would have if I had to commute.
Fox News: What advice would you give to other women, especially those who are constantly on the go and put themselves as an afterthought?
Menounos: That’s my biggest message to all women. We do have to change that. We’ve all gone from human beings to human doings. We’re working harder than ever. And when our bodies make noises, we’re like, ‘Shush, I don’t have time for you. I’m busy. I can’t get to the doctor. I don’t have time.’ We treat our cars better than this. Our cars make a noise and we instantly take it to the mechanic.
My biggest message to women and men is to put their health in higher consideration and to listen to those warning signals because they all start to add up. And before you know it, you’re dealing with a crisis. A pain journal is something that I keep so when I have my annual physical with the doctor, I can look back and see if maybe there’s a pattern that I need to be paying attention to.
Fox News: How’s married life?
Menounos: Married life has been great. We’re actually going to do another ceremony coming up soon in Greece, in the village that we’re from originally. A friend of mine recently showed me a scene from ‘The Godfather’ and I started to laugh. The church and the area where I have to walk is literally a spitting image. I just started dying laughing. So without knowing it, I’m recreating a scene from “The Godfather.” My dad will be the taller-looking Al Pacino.