Veteran TV anchor/host Katie Couric, now fighting breast cancer, is planning to speak out more about her experience with the disease — and become an advocate for screenings.
According to a story by Claire Fahy in yesterday's editions of The New York Times, when she received the troubling diagnosis on June 21, she "handled it the way she handles any other news event — as a journalist."
Al Rabson, former leader of the National Cancer Institute, "use to call her 'Dr. Couric' because she had amassed so much knowledge," the Times story says.
Couric, once the host of the "Today Show" and anchor of "CBS Evening News," apparently will publish more about her ordeal, as well as information about breast cancer in general, throughout October, which has long been designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
She also plans to use her experience as a goad to officialdom. The Times quotes her as saying, "Hopefully this will be a kick in the pants for a lot of policymakers and just a lot of women in general to make sure they are up to date on their screenings."
Fahy also quotes Couric to the effect that this bout with the disease isn't her "first rodeo" — her first husband, Jay Monahan, died from colon cancer in 1998, and her sister, Emily, died from pancreatic cancer in 2001.
The Times observes that Couric published an article yesterday noting that the day of her diagnosis was her eighth wedding anniversary. In that piece, she details the specifics of her cancer, including the fact that her dense breasts, not an uncommon condition, made it difficult for mammograms to detect the cancer.
According to Fahy, the news anchor colorfully describes finding an abnormality in dense breasts "like looking for a snowball in a snowy field."
Her cancer apparently was found by an additional ultrasound.
The National Cancer Institute reports, not incidentally, that almost half the women over 40 in the United States have dense breasts.
Reportedly, one in eight women develop breast cancer, with the survival rate for those whose cancer has not metastasized as 99 percent. Couric's, which was detected early and is labeled as State 1A, hasn't spread to her lymph nodes or anywhere else.
A lot more information about the disease and its history in the United States can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.