TV and radio host Maria Menounoswas in the midst of caring for her mother, who has stage 4 brain cancer, when she began to exhibit symptoms she knew too well. An MRI revealed that she had a meningioma brain tumor that was pressing on her facial nerve.
"I'd been getting lightheaded on set and having headaches," she recalled to PEOPLE. "My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter."
She went to the same neurosurgeon, Dr. Keith L. Black, who had been treating her mother in order to undergo tests.
"I didn't cry. I actually laughed," she shared of the moment he confirmed that she did in fact have a tumor. "It's so surreal and crazy and unbelievable that my mom has a brain tumor—and now I have one too?"
On June 8, her 39th birthday, she went into surgery to have the golf-ball sized tumor removed.
"He said, 'I'm 98 percent sure it's benign but we won't know until we get in there,'" Menounos said. It turns out the doctor was correct.
After a six-day hospital stay she was able to return home to be with her mother, Litsa, whose own cancer was shown to be stable in her latest MRI.
"I don't have my balance fully yet but as long as I'm holding on to Keven, I'm sturdy and fine," Menounos shared. "My face is still numb. This is something that takes at least a month of healing, but I'm getting stronger and stronger every day and I'll be back to normal very soon."
Now the Dancing With the Stars alum is sharing her story to caution others not to let symptoms go unchecked.
"We're caretakers as women and we put ourselves last," she said. "I tell people all the time if your car is making a weird noise, you take it to the mechanic. How come when our body is making weird noises, we ignore it? I'm so lucky that I went to the doctor and raised the alarm."
She has stepped down from her hosting duties at E! News as she focuses on her health.
"I am so grateful for the past three years at E!, I had such an amazing time co-hosting with Jason Kennedy and working everyday with the wonderful roster of talent on the show including producers, staff and crew," said Menounos in a statement according to Variety. "It was such a special, good-hearted group and one I'll always consider family. A special thank you to (NBCUniversal Cable's) Frances Berwick and (E! president) Adam Stotsky for all the support they have shown me through the years especially during these tough times. I will truly miss everyone and looking forward to this next chapter in my life."