Award-winning journalist Katie Couric announced to the public on Wednesday that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June. Couric has already gone through surgery and radiation treatments, and she completed her final round of radiation this week.

Couric posted an essay on Katie Couric Media, which she founded in 2017, to describe her experience with breast cancer. Her diagnosis of Stage 1 breast cancer came after missing her annual mammogram.

“I felt sick and the room started to spin,” Couric said, as she recalled hearing of her cancer diagnosis. “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.”

The 65-year-old news personality is no stranger to cancer. Couric lost her first husband to colon cancer, her sister was taken by pancreatic cancer at 54 and her mother-in-law died from ovarian cancer, per her blog post.

Some of Couric’s family members have had better outcomes with the life-threatening disease. Couric’s mother, father and current husband have all survived their own bouts with cancer.

“Given my family’s history of cancer, why would I be spared?” Couric said. “My reaction went from ‘Why me?’ to ‘Why not me?’” 

Signs of breast cancer

Breast cancer accounts for 30% of new cancers in women each year. Women in the United States have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer, the American Cancer Society reports. There are over 3.8 million survivors of breast cancer in the United States today.

The American Cancer Society reports that finding breast cancer early is one of the most important actions in preventing death from breast cancer. Breast cancer is most treatable when found early on. Being aware of the breast cancer signs and symptoms, and getting timely mammograms, can detect breast cancer earlier when it’s easier to treat.

The American Cancer Society lists the following as breast cancer signs/symptoms:

  • Dimpled skin.
  • Swelling of the breast (all or part).
  • Pain in the breast or nipple.
  • Red, dry, flaking or thickened skin on the breast or nipple.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Swelling of lymph nodes near the collar bone or under the arm.

While knowing the signs of breast cancer is important, it doesn’t replace the need for a mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends that women between 45 and 54 receive annual mammograms. Women between 40 and 44 can also consider getting an annual mammogram. Women over 55 should get a mammogram at least every other year.

Women can perform regular self breast exams on top of the necessary screenings and mammograms, the American Cancer Society recommends. The most important detail for self breast exams is to be familiar with what your breasts normally look and feel like so that you can recognize irregularities.