Skip to content

This Was the First Sign Katie Couric Had Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and here's four things to know, according to experts. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Katie Couric announced she had breast cancer, in a revealing new post. And she's not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Each year in the United States, about 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,400 in men. About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer." Although fatal cases have declined, to date breast cancer remains the second leading cause of death among women. Staying informed, getting annual mammograms and knowing the signs of breast cancer can be life-saving and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who shares four things to know about breast cancer. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Don't Skip Exams. That's How Couric Discovered She Had Breast Cancer

Breast cancer self check

Couric's cancer was discovered at an exam. "I felt sick and the room started to spin. I was in the middle of an open office, so I walked to a corner and spoke quietly, my mouth unable to keep up with the questions swirling in my head," she wrote. "During that 24-hour whirlwind, I found out that 85 percent of the 264,000 American women who are diagnosed every year in this country have no family history. I clearly had a lot to learn."

Dr. Mitchell says, "I honestly think if you are reading this article today, please take this as a reminder to do a self-breast exam if you can. I know recommendations have to flip-flopped over doing self-breast exams and not doing breast exams, but I believe it's best to err on the side of caution. Women need to be aware of changes in their breasts early. It's also important to note that normal changes happen to most of us over time. In my practice, I have had countless women present in my office because they noticed a lump on their exam. I also have seen very unfortunate cases when women have ignored extreme, clear signs of breast cancer when the disease is advanced. Please understand your body and listen to that intuition each of us has within. If you feel that your healthcare provider isn't listening to your concerns, please persist and find another one who will act on them- it might save your life. I will list a few facts about breast cancer that we all should be aware of."


Family History Matters

happy family spending time together

According to Dr. Mitchell, "Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, and it is estimated that one in eight women will develop the disease at some point in their lifetime. While there are several risk factors for breast cancer, family history is one of the most important. For example, women with a close relative diagnosed with breast cancer are up to three times more likely to develop the disease themselves. This may be due to genetic factors, shared lifestyles, and environmental factors. Therefore, women must be aware of their family history of breast cancer. If you have a close relative diagnosed with the disease, you should speak to your doctor about your risks and what you can do to reduce them."


If You Are Diagnosed With Breast Cancer, You Should Stop Drinking Alcohol…Ideally Indefinitely

Sad woman drinking wine at kitchen.

Dr. Mitchell states, "Alcohol is a common fixture at social gatherings and celebrations. For many people, it is a way to relax and have fun. However, alcohol is not recommended for people who have had breast cancer. Studies have shown that even moderate drinking can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. There is an increased risk of cancer recurrence for those who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer. Alcohol can also interfere with treatment, making it less effective.

Additionally, it can cause side effects, such as fatigue and nausea. For these reasons, it is best to avoid alcohol if you have had breast cancer. If you choose to drink, it is essential to do so in moderation. Excessive drinking can lead to serious health problems, including liver damage and cancer. So while a glass of champagne may be appropriate to celebrate a special occasion, it is essential to be aware of the risks involved."


A Breast Cancer Diagnosis Can Be Isolating

Thoughtful girl sitting on sill embracing knees looking at window, sad depressed teenager spending time alone at home, young upset pensive woman feeling lonely or frustrated thinking about problems

Dr. Mitchell shares, "A breast cancer diagnosis can indeed be isolating. You might feel alone, and this is quite common. However, there are ways to combat this feeling of isolation. First, it is essential to understand that you are not alone; millions of women worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer yearly. Additionally, many organizations and support groups are available to help you through your journey. These groups can provide valuable information, resources, and a sense of community.

Additionally, social media can be a great way to connect with others who are going through a similar experience. Lastly, remember that your friends and family are still here for you; lean on them for support when you need it. You can get through this challenging time with the right mindset and support system."


It's Normal to Have a Fear of Losing Your Curves and Hair Loss

"A breast cancer diagnosis can shock the system on many levels," Dr. Mitchell says. "In addition to the physical and emotional toll that cancer can take, patients often face significant changes to their appearance. For example, while hair loss and weight loss are common side effects of cancer treatment, the loss of curves can be incredibly distressing for many women. It is important to remember that these changes are normal and that they do not define you as a person. With time, you will learn to accept your new body and appreciate it for all it has been through. In the meantime, there are many ways to cope with the changes, such as pursuing a new fashion style or investing in a great wig. No matter what, know that you are not alone in this journey.

Choosing to have breast reconstruction is a very personal decision. There are many factors to consider, including your overall health, treatment goals, and personal preferences. Ultimately, the decision is between you and your surgeon. It is essential to take the time to discuss your options with your surgeon and ask any questions you may have. Be sure to also ask about breast reconstruction's risks and potential complications. Once you have all the information you need, you can make the decision that feels right for you. Remember, it is your body and your choice."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
Filed Under