"Deciding to tell [them] was the toughest part," Menounos told PEOPLE. "If my mom was stable, it would have been easier. But because her tumor was growing [at the time], it was really depressing. It was awful because we were all living in this house and keeping this secret."
Menounos waited until three days before her June 8 surgery (It was a success, by the way; renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Keith L. Black removed a golf-ball sized meningioma brain tumor that was pressing on her facial nerves.). The TV and Sirius XM radio host and her fiancé Keven Undergaro sat down with her parents, who are living in their Los Angeles home, to deliver the news.
"We went into their room and I said, 'We have something to tell you.' Every time I say it, people say, 'You're pregnant!' And it's like, 'No, it's not a good thing,'" said Menounos, who has been undergoing IVF treatments to try and start a family.
"I said, 'I want you to understand that you have brain cancer, but not all tumors are cancerous. We found a tumor in me. We're going to have surgery on Thursday."
She said both her parents "just welled up."
"They were just in shock," Menounos said. "But we kept reassuring them it would be fine."0comments
In fact, Menounos drew strength from watching the way her mother, Listsa, handled her own diagnosis and battle.
"She has smiled through the whole thing," Menounos says of Litsa, whose latest MRI shows her tumor is stable. "She's always been positive. Always 'I feel great,' just a champ. My goal was just to be as happy and calm as possible because I didn't want it to be hard on everybody. I really prayed, 'Please God give me the strength that my mom had.' Because she gave us that gift."