““Please get your annual mammogram. I was six months late this time. I shudder to think what might have happened if I had put it off longer.” ”
— Katie Couric
That was Katie Couric, who revealed Wednesday that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June. “I wanted to share my personal story with you all and encourage you to get screened and understand that you may fall into a category of women who needs more than a mammogram,” she wrote in an Instagram post. She also shared her diagnosis on Twitter.
The former “Today” and “CBS Evening News” anchor went into more detail in a personal essay posted to her website, which was titled “Why NOT Me?” Couric, 65, has been an advocate for cancer awareness ever since her first husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer in 1998 at just 42 years old. Her sister passed from pancreatic cancer at age 54, as well. And her parents are both cancer survivors. But even though Couric’s family history of cancer has kept her vigilant about her health, she notes in her essay that she still fell behind on her annual mammograms — aka, getting X-rays to screen breasts for early signs of cancer — during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 45 to 54 with an average risk of breast cancer get a mammogram every year; those at higher risk should start screening in their 30s. Women ages 55 and up who are in good health, and who don’t have higher risk factors (like a family history of breast cancer) can switch to getting mammograms every other year. But the first line of Couric’s essay recounts her gynecologist telling her this past summer that, “You’re due for a mammogram,” and surprising the former news anchor by telling her that she hadn’t been screened since December 2020, and so was six months overdue. “Wait, what? How could that be? Had the pandemic given me a skewed sense of time? Had it messed with my memory?” writes Couric. If so, she is not alone. Public health advocates have been warning for the past two years that many Americans have been missing routine medical screenings and vaccines during the pandemic. Two 2021 analyses by Urban Institute researchers found that about 36% of U.S. adults had chosen to delay or go without medical treatment due to fears of being exposed to COVID-19, and 41% of people already diagnosed with chronic health conditions did the same. Related: Sen. Amy Klobuchar urges Americans to get health checkups after revealing she had breast cancer In fact, research from the American Cancer Society published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last June — coincidentally, when Couric was diagnosed — found that cancer screenings plummeted 80% at the beginn …