“Is it is it fake when you’re wrestling?” I asked her.
I was already getting yelled at.
Then she said, “You wanna try?”
But I turned Maria Menounos down. “I’m 50 and I break easily.”
You’ve seen Maria all over TV. On E! News, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Dateline, Today, Extra and she’s been an actress in a ton of stuff, too.
“You’re like a walking adderall,” I said. “I don’t know how you did all the amazing things you’ve done. If I were to just introduce you, that would take up the full hour of the show.”
And I actually didn’t want to spend too much time talking about her career. Because at some point, Maria was forced to slow down.
And that’s what I wanted to focus on in my time with her. Why did she slow down? How did it help her? What did she do specifically to create everyday wellness?
But first, I had to back to her brain tumor. “The tumor was pressing on a nerve that controls the whole right side of my face,” she said. “So it was very dangerous and complicated. There was a very good chance that I was going to have paralysis and all kind of defects on my face.”
“How did you get the diagnosis?”
She told me about her stress. She thought that was the only thing going on. I think I make that mistake daily, too…
Not that I have brain cancer. But there’s always something beneath the surface of what we call “stress.”
Her stress lead to ear pain. And her symptoms would come and go based on how aggravated the tumor was.
Finally, she went to a doctor. There was no ear infection (which is what she thought it’d be).
So they ran tests. Weeks later, she’s helping her mom detox from chemotherapy. Everyone in her family was struggling.
“It was an awful time. I was my mom’s quarterback.” She had brain cancer, too.
“I was in charge of everything for her health care and there were a lot of massive decisions that were on my shoulders.” (Part of what caused her to have so much stress.)
And it was running through the family. Everyone was afraid of losing Maria’s mom. And no one knew about Maria’s cancer yet…
“My dad was literally a shell of a man. He was exhausted and terrified his wife was about to die. Then I get the call. And the doctor says, ‘I hate to tell you this after everything you’ve gone through, but you have a brain tumor, too’.”
She texted her best friend from 7th grade. And said, “I have a brain tumor. But I can’t talk right now. I have to pee and then I’ll call you.”
“At what point did you cry?” I asked.
“I didn’t cry.”
She shared the same doctor as her mom. And she’d joke with him, “Hey, you see this mother-daughter tumor thing often?”
He said “no.”
But the joking helped her be herself and stay optimistic. “We had a rule,” she said. “Comedy must rule.”
She even had a theme song for her fight against cancer. It was “Rocky.” And later on, after surgery, she designed herself a superhero outfit.
I really admired this “conquer all” attitude.
I can hear her strength in the way she explains herself. It’s like she had a forcefield in her mind that protected her from thinking the worst.
So I asked, “When did you switch over from striving for a certain degree of fame or success to striving for your own personal wellbeing?”
“Going through two brain tumors in a matter of months was enough for me to surrender everything and say, ‘I really don’t care anymore. My health and my happiness are paramount and everything else comes after.’ I wanted to heal from so many things in life.”
As I listened, I wondered. Why is it so hard to say the words Maria finally told herself?
“My health and my happiness are paramount and everything else comes after.”
Maria said that if it wasn’t for the brain tumor, she would’ve kept running on empty in a toxic career. Instead of taking the path she’s on now.
“I knew why it was happening,” she said. “I knew it was God shutting it down for me because I was never going to shut it down.”
Cancer forced her to recover. Physically, mentally and spiritually.
Now, Maria Menounos is back to work, but this time for herself.
She has the podcast “Conversations with Maria” and she’s the CEO of AfterBuzz TV along with her husband Keven Undergaro.
“We built a business where we’re producing 150 hours of content a week, we’re global and we have about 300 hosts.”
And every year, they hit a billion downloads.
But before she got there, she had to learn how to take a period of absence. And that’s what this episode really speaks to… the need to live for yourself.
And the way to do it.
Links and Resources
Conversations with Maria (Maria’s podcast)
Maria’s Serius XM show
Maria’s philanthropic work with Soul Patch
Born This Way on A&E
Chris Jenner who told Maria, “Tomorrow is never promised.”
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